Verdict reserved on medical negligence victim’s plea

September 17th, 2008 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday reserved its verdict on appeals challenging the national consumer commission’s order awarding a compensation of Rs.1.5 million to an Infosys engineer, a medical negligence victim who was paralysed below the waist.A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal, Justice H.S. Bedi and Justice G.S. Singhvi reserved its verdict after hearing arguments by the alleged victim of medical negligence Prashanth S. Dhananka, an Infosys engineer working in Bangalore and the Hyderabad-based Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had in 1993 ordered the Nizam Institute to pay a compensation of Rs.1.5 million to Dhananka for allegedly botching up a surgery for removal of a tumour in his chest cavity, leading to the paralysis of the lower body, including legs.

Dhananka, son of a Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) employee, was admitted to the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Sep 1990 after complaints of unexplained intermittent fever. Doctors from BHEL hospital referred him there for “further” tests.

The tests showed a large tumour in his left chest cavity. After an X-ray and a CT scan confirmed this, he was asked to undergo an excision biopsy that helps to find out the nature of the tumour.

Although the tumour was found to be benign, doctors decided to remove it fearing that it might later exert pressure on his respiratory, cardio-vascular and neurological systems. The doctors feared it could also later turn malignant.

A team led by a cardio-thoracic surgeon removed the tumour. In the process, a part of his ribs had to be excised.

After the surgery, Dhananka, developed paralysis of the lower portion of the body, including legs.

No allegation of medical negligence was made then. But, six months later, Dhananka’s father wrote a letter to the institute in 1991, alleging negligence.

In 1993, Dhananka moved the NCDRC alleging negligence and sought damages of about Rs.50 million. The commission held the doctors negligent and directed the institute to pay Rs.1.4 million to the patient and Rs.150,000 to his father.

The institute moved the apex court challenging the NCDRC finding that it was guilty of negligence.

It contended that it had not associated a neuro-surgeon in the surgery from the beginning and had not exchanged any opinion with sister institutes in India and abroad.

The patient challenged the compensation amount as inadequate. The case reached the Supreme Court in 1999.

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