By Meghna Yelluru
A consumer forum on Thursday directed a doctor to cough up Rs 13.15 lakh for negligence in delivering a baby that resulted in cerebral palsy and subsequent death of the infant. The forum held the woman doctor from Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children in Parel, accountable for negligence in attending to the delivery of a baby that was not provided oxygen for around 30 minutes after birth.
The forum observed, “One fact which is quite unfortunate and disheartening is one of the defences taken by the doctor. According to her, the case has been filed to extort money. We see such defense being taken whenever medical negligence is alleged against the doctor. It has become a stock defence. We feel such defence in such cases shows lack of sensitivity”.
On November 18, 2004, the mother, Sheetal Shinde was admitted to the nursing home for delivery. According to her, after necessary tests were conducted, at 12.30 pm Sheetal’s brother and her husband were driven out by the doctor Hansa Naik, after informing them that the delivery may be delayed upto 4.00 p.m as the baby had turned head-up in the womb. Naik, however, was suddenly called by the nurse and it was decided to use a vacuum extractor to deliver the baby.
The baby girl, Sanika,was born pink and did not cry immediately. According to the complainants, Naik decided to keep the new born in a ventilator but the oxygen cylinder was found to be empty. “About 30 minutes were required to replace the cylinder. In this process the brain of the baby was affected and damaged,” the complainants alleged.
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According to Naik, at 2.40 pm, the Shindes were informed that the child will require neonatal intensive care and at 2:50 pm the Surya
Hospital was informed.
The court, however, observed that, “The documents along with the written version show that the call was received for transfer of neonatal with respiratory distress by Surya Hospital at 3.40 pm and the infant was admitted in Surya Hospital/Nursing Home at 4.45 pm. There is a difference of vital and important 50 minutes, between the fact of giving call to and receiving of call by Surya Nursing Home.”
Naik also informed the forum that Sanika was kept in a baby warmer after gentle suction and drying and intermittent positive respiration (IPPR) with Ambu bag was started with oxygen.
The complainants further claimed that even after 19 days , there was no significant growth of the baby.
The court took into account the report which showed that the baby suffered from ‘Delayed Milestone and Cerebral Palsy’. Her vision was impaired and she did not sleep at night.
Naik denied the delay in providing oxygen to the baby and informed the forum that a ward boy was called at 2.20 pm and was asked to keep another oxygen cylinder ready in case required and accordingly it was kept ready.
“If everything was normal and in order there was no necessity of bringing the second cylinder. The inference can be drawn that previously no second cylinder was kept ready in the labour room to replace immediately the empty one.”