In the highest ever compensation ordered by an Indian court in a medical negligence case,the Supreme Court Thursday awarded Rs 6.03 crore for the wrongful death of a US-based child psychologist,who lost her life due to recklessness of Kolkata doctors while visiting India in 1998.
A Bench of Justices C K Prasad and V Gopala Gowda enhanced the compensation of Rs 1.73 crore,awarded by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in 2011,to Rs 6.03 crore along with a 6 per cent interest from 1999. The total amount to be paid to Anuradhas doctor husband Kunal Saha,an AIDS researcher in Ohio,would be around Rs 11 crore after adding the interest.
The court ordered the Advanced Medicare and Research Institute and three doctors to cough up the damages within eight weeks. Dr Sukumar Mukherjee and Dr Balram Halder will pay Rs 10 lakh each while Dr Baidyanath Prasad will shell out Rs 5 lakh. The court slammed Mukherjee and Halder for their disregard to the noble profession and utmost callousness while treating Anuradha.
This is the highest quantum of compensation in the medico-legal history of India so far. The maximum award until now was Rs 1 crore granted to a software engineer in 2009. The verdict in one of the longest running medical negligence cases could set a benchmark and act as a trendsetter for judicial evaluation of compensation for victims of medical negligence.
Taking cognizance of the spurt in medical negligence cases,the Bench said: The doctors,hospitals,the nursing homes and other connected establishments are to be dealt with strictly if they are found to be negligent with the patients who come to them.
We hope and trust that this decision acts as a deterrent and a reminder to those who do not take their responsibility seriously, said the Bench while asking the government to consider enacting laws wherever there was absence of one for their effective functioning.
The judgment has increased the value of lives lost due to medical negligence. This will act as a deterrent against irresponsible medical practice.
Kunal Saha,victims husband,to The Indian Express
Anuradha,then 36,had come to Kolkata in 1998 for a wedding when she developed a skin allergy. The couple consulted Dr Sukumar Mukherjee,who reportedly prescribed her an inappropriate medicine with a dosage of about 15 times its normal usage. She was shifted to AMRI hospital where her condition worsened. She was eventually shifted to Mumbais Breach Candy Hospital where she died on May 28,1998.