NEW DELHI: Holding the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) responsible for negligence, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) asked it to pay Rs 25 lakh in compensation to the kin of a cardiac patient who died after being "tossed like a chattel". An employee of the erstwhile Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking was advised by AIIMS on April 21, 1997 for coronary artery bypass graft and asked to deposit Rs 70,000. He arranged the money and deposited it with AIIMS on July 23, 1997.Two days later, he was rushed to the emergency ward at 2am with severe pain in the chest and the left side of the neck. AIIMS referred him to Safdarjung Hospital at 5am on the ground that it had no bed to spare. No ambulance was provided and he was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital in a car. However, the employee of the erstwhile Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking was shifted back to AIIMS on July 30, 1997 and he passed away at 9 pm the next day. His daughter Charul Manu sued AIIMS for medical negligence and demanded a compensation of Rs 37 lakh.
When the matter reached the NCDRC, it found that AIIMS was guilty of medical negligence. It said ideally, a cardiac patient in the throes of a heart attack should receive thrombocytic medication within first 30 minutes of his arrival in the hospital which helps him survive the attack.
The NCDRC found that the patient was not given this treatment. Worse, he was ordered to be shifted out on the ground that there was no hospital bed available. "We have no hesitation in arriving at the conclusion that referring the patient, who was in a grave condition, to Safdarjung Hospital was sheer negligence on the part of treating doctors, and the time spent in his shifting undoubtedly proved fatal," said a bench of NCDRC president D K Jain and member M Shreesha.
On the non-provision of ambulance, the bench said, "No reason is forthcoming as to why this life saving facility was not made available and the patient, admittedly under Inferior Wall Myocardial Infraction, was tossed from one hospital to another like a chattel." It ordered the compensation to be paid with interest from the date of filing of complaint, that is from 1999. The total amount with interest will now be over Rs 50 lakh.
The bench thought it necessary to remind AIIMS that failure on its part, like any other hospital, to provide timely medical treatment to a person resulted in violation of right to life guaranteed under Article 21of the Constitution.