CHENNAI: Justice has come at a snail's pace for a girl - 14 years after she suffered neurological damage to her leg due to medical negligence.
Hours after a private hospital erred in administering an injection for common fever, she suffered acute neurological damage in her left leg, leaving it paralysed below the knee.
Forced to drop out of school, she lost her future. After 14 years of protracted legal tussle, the state consumer disputes redressal commission has awarded her a compensation of 4 lakh. In his complaint, Shanmuga Sundaram said he took his daughter Ezhilarasi (then 12) to a private hospital in Villupuram in August 2000 as she was suffering from fever. He said Dr Ashok Kumar at Devaki Clinic administered an injection to her. Soon she developed a swelling and she was unable to stand or walk.
The doctor, however, said the "pain would subside." As the complications did not abate, he took Ezhilarasi to the doctor again who referred her to a neuro surgeon.
In the next few months, Sundaram took her to several doctors in Puducherry and Chennai but in vain. He then moved the district consumer disputes redressal forum in Villupuram seeking a compensation of 4 lakh for medical negligence. Countering his arguments, the doctor said he had not erred in administering the injection and Ezhilrasi had developed the complications in a fall.
In fact, it was a "suspected case of spinal damage", he said. Agreeing with the doctor, the forum dismissed the Sundaram's complaint. Subsequently, he filed an appeal in the state commission.
Awarding the compensation, the bench of president R Regupathi, judicial member J Jayaram and member P Bakiyavathi underlined the precedent established by the SC. The apex court had said that in a case where medical negligence was evident, the onus was upon the doctor to prove "he had taken care and done his duty." While Sundaram had discharged his burden of proving a case of negligence, the doctor could "neither rebut not disprove it", the forum said.
The forum directed the doctor to pay the compensation along with 10,000 as case costs.