MADURAI: Stating that patients are subjecting themselves at the hands of doctors with the hope that the latter would do everything to save their lives, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Thursday said society expects them to act with utmost responsibility, commitment and in a highly professional manner as per the oath they had taken to render medical assistance to the best of their ability.
The court made this observation while ordering Rs 28.37 lakh compensation to the family of a 34-year old woman, Rukmani, who died on May 4, 2012 at the Government Nagercoil Medical College and Hospital in Asaripallam in Kanyakumari district due to medical negligence.
The state's health secretary should give the amount with 9% interest per annum within eight weeks, said Justice K K Sasidharan on a petition filed in 2013 by S Ganesan of Semponkarai in Kanyakumari district seeking Rs 50 lakh compensation to his two children and himself. The judge also imposed a cost of Rs 33,000 on the government.
Rukmani, a tailor, was admitted for tubectomy on March 18, 2011. She suffered heavy blood loss the next day as she was administered nitrous oxide, instead of oxygen. She was immediately rushed to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai for further treatment.
Seeking better treatment, her husband filed a case before the high court bench, which in turn directed the woman to be admitted to the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore. However, the government preferred an appeal against the order. The appeal was dismissed on February 10, 2012, following which she was admitted to CMC on February 12. Subsequently, she died on May 4 that year.
Ganesan filed a case seeking compensation. On that, the judge passed the order and said, "The state was not fair to the patient as well as the petitioner. The division bench which dismissed the appeal made a clear finding with regard to the negligence suffered by the patient at the hospital. But the state has not challenged the finding. It did not file counter to the present petition. Therefore, it is not necessary for the petitioner to prove the negligence of the authorities at the hospital."
He further said, "The factual matrix clearly shows that the hospital authorities administered nitrous oxide to the deceased instead of oxygen. The doctors and paramedical staff of Government Nagercoil Medical College Hospital were involved in acts of medical negligence. Because of their negligence, the petitioner's wife went into a vegetative state. Thus, the state is bound to pay compensation."
Accordingly, he ordered Rs 28.37 lakh as compensation by calculating loss of the income of the deceased, medical expenses, non-pecuniary damages and loss of personal income of her husband who spent 411 days with her during treatment.