In a landmark fast-track decision, the National Human Rights Commission in its first hearing, on Wednesday, directed Maharashtra government to provide Rs 4 lakh compensation to four patients who became victims of medical negligence at government hospitals.
All the four verdicts came against state public health department of Maharashtra in which compensation varying from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh was directed during the public hearing held at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. There were 103 cases lined up from Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In Gujarat and Rajasthan cases, compensation was ordered in two and five cases respectively.
Labourer Suresh Naik (26) is jobless but a sense of justice rides upon him now. He suffered a crushed feet in March last year after a truck ran over him in Taloda. He was immediately admitted at Taloda subdistrict hospital and referred to Nandurbar district hospital for treatment on March 25.
“For four days, his band-aid was changed only twice. No infection control was carried out,” said Ranjana Kandhere, who presented his case to NHRC.
On March 27, due to gangrene, Naik’s right led was amputated at the district hospital. The amount of Rs 4,000 spent on blood units coupled with loss of employment forced his mother to start working in a farm in Nandurbar.
The NHRC bench comprising Justice Cyriac Joseph observed gross negligence in treatment of Naik and ordered government of Maharashtra to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakh and also provide a prosthetic limb to him.The NHRC hearings brought to the fore the need to upgrade services in rural hospitals. All the compensation cases directed by NHRC concerned rural, civil or sub district hospitals.
Like Naik, Sheetal Bankar (24) was offered compensation of Rs 1 lakh for wrongly receiving treatment for HIV infection that she never contracted.
According to Bankar’s husband, Raju Bankar, his pregnant wife was taken to Indapur sub district hospital on August 23 last year where three tests conducted on her showed she was H1N1 positive.
She was asked to seek treatment in a tertiary center. “We went to several private doctors. Initially we were told that she is hepatitis B positive. We never knew her reports stated she had HIV,” Raju, a farmer, said.
Bankar was finally given admission at Sassoon hospital, Pune, where she delivered a boy on September 6. She was put on anti retroviral treatment for HIV without her knowledge on September 4.
“For four days she was on ART treatment,” her husband claimed. The new born baby was also given ART treatment for two days without testing him.“I came to know she was on ART when the doctor gave me her medicine,” Raju said. On his insistence, when the hospital conducted a repeat test, they found she did not suffer from HIV infection and that the referral reports were wrong.
“The patient has been denied her right for treatment in several hospitals because her reports wrongly stated she had HIV. The state government is directed to pay a compensation of Rs one lakh,” Justice Joseph observed.