By Kartik Kumar
Holding that it was a case of medical negligence, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ordered PGIMER to pay Rs 17 lakh in compensation to the parents of Anupama Sarkar, a 16-year-old schoolgirl who died because of complications arising from delay in treatment in July 2012.
“It is really unfortunate that due to the bureaucratic approach and red tapism adopted by the hospital, the precious life of a young girl could not be saved,” said the commission in its order on Thursday.
The bench of Justice V B Gupta and Dr Suresh Chandra not only upheld the order of the Chandigarh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission — against which the PGI had filed an appeal — but also increased the total compensation from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.
Of this, Rs 3 lakh was paid by the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking to Anupama’s parents in compliance with the state commission’s order in 2013.
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On July 17, 2012, the left leg of Anupama Sarkar, a resident of Mauli Jagran complex and the only child of her parents, was crushed under a CTU bus while she was attempting to board it near the Government Model Senior Secondary School in Sector 18, where she studied. She was rushed to the Advance Trauma Centre of the PGIMER.
Her family alleged delay in medical treatment led to the amputation of her leg. It also resulted in the spread of infection into her body, which led to sepsis and her death on July 24.
Anupama’s parents, Amit Sarkar and Konika, moved the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission for compensation. In its affidavit, the PGIMER said that “Anupama was planned for surgery at the time of admission itself, but that the procedure was delayed due to a heavy rush of patients”.
On April 4, 2013, the commission ordered the PGIMER to pay Rs 7 lakh and CTU to pay Rs 3 lakh to the parents. Anupama’s parents challenged the order in the national commission, seeking higher compensation. The PGIMER also filed an appeal.
Dismissing the PGI appeal, the national commission agreed with the finding of the state commission that “from the facts and circumstances of the case, as also from the enquiry reports, it is apparent that there was considerable delay in properly treating the patient’’.
The bench observed, “The PGI is a prestigious medical institute. Therefore, it is expected from such institute that it should work not in a purely bureaucratic manner (patient should be treated as per seniority in the queue, but it should be run in a professional manner).’’
It said, “The complainants have lost their only child…. No amount of money can compensate their sufferings and agony.”
Asked whether they would comply with the commission’s order, Manju Wadwalkar, PRO of PGIMER, said, “The higher authorities are currently examining the order. They will soon take a call on the issue of appealing against the NCDRC’s order in the Supreme Court.”
‘No money can compensate for my child’s life’
‘Reacting to the national commission’s order, Anupama’s father Amit Sarkar said, “No money can compensate for my child’s life. I have lost my only child due to the negligence of the institute. We had faith in the premier institute and hoped that she would be treated well by the doctors. Much to our regret, we were proved wrong. The doctors ignored her completely and delayed the operation, which claimed her life.”
“However, we are satisfied with the commission’s decision of holding the PGI responsible for my daughter’s death. The judgment can finally give us closure. My wife Konika and I have stayed here for the last three years and were awaiting the judgment. We can now go back to Kolkata and continue with the rest of our lives.”
Amit earns Rs 9,000 per month in a private job. Anupama had just cleared her class X examination with 75 per cent marks.
July 17, 2012: Anupama meets with accident, rushed to PGI
July 18, 2012: Remains in a preoperative room after initial bandaging
July 19, 2012: Taken to the operation theatre late at night, but suffers hypotension
July 20, 2012: Undergoes hip disarticulation surgery
July 24, 2012: Dies at 5.16 am
July 28, 2012: Internal probe committee of PGIMER gives clean chit to the staff
Aug 4, 2012: External committee constituted
Dec 25, 2012: External Committee submits report to the PGI
April 4, 2013: State commission orders PGI to pay Rs 7 lakh and CTU to pay Rs 3 lakh compensation
May 21, 2015: NCDRC orders PGI to enhance compensation by Rs 10 lakh