MUMBAI: Fourteen years after a five-year-old girl succumbed to leukaemia, the state consumer commission held the doctor and a reputed suburban hospital guilty of being negligent during her initial treatment and ordered them to pay the bereaved father a compensation of approximately Rs 11.5 lakh. The child who died two years after first being admitted in Nanavati Hospitalhad developed gangrene in the arm due to an ill-administered intravenous line.
The Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said there was deficiency in service on part of haematologist Dr Mukesh Desai and the hospital as they had not taken precautions for effective treatment of the the child. "We therefore hold the opposite party jointly and severally liable to pay compensation for medical negligence towards the child Vishakha who succumbed ultimately as a result of the injury-gangrene caused due to medical negligence towards her during administration of chemotherapy while she was treated in Nanavati Hospital," the commission said.
It also pointed out that despite being given the opportunities, the doctor and the hospital did not bring on record any expert opinion regarding the standard medical care protocol adopted in this case to exonerate themselves.
The complaint was filed by the child's father, Andheri-based Ashok Pujari, in 2002. The father said the child was admitted to the hospital on recommendation of the family doctor on July 15, 2000, with high fever. He further said on July 22, 2000, finding no improvement in her condition, the doctor in charge referred her to Desai for further investigation. The father said that blood cancer was detected and chemotherapy recommended.
Pujari alleged that the faulty IV caused the medicines to collect in the elbow of the then two-year-old child. This, he said, caused her tremendous pain and a big black spot developed on the elbow. The father alleged that due to their negligence, the child remained in trauma from a ruptured vein, which was damaged. He claimed that gangrene developed and in order to stop in from spreading, another doctor performed an operation. The father said the child had to remain in hospital for three months as the bone in the elbow was infected. Stating that the child suffered permanent deformity and had to undergo physiotherapy, Pujari filed the complaint. During pendency of the complaint, on May 18, 2002, the child died.
Refuting the hospital's contention disowning its liability in the case, the commission held that it had a vicarious liability to follow the standard protocol of effective medical treatment and call for professionally skilful and trained doctors for her treatment post admission.