A doctor couple who did not forewarn a woman of foetal anomalies during her pregnancy was on Saturday asked by the Consumer Commission to pay compensation of Rs 36 lakh to her and her husband.
The order of the Consumer Commission, comprising retired Justice Sunil Hali and retired District and Sessions Judge D K Kapoor, came on a complaint filed by Seema Kumari and her husband Atish Kumar, alleging that Dr K C Sharma and his wife Dr Uma Sharma were running an ultrasound scanning centre and nursing home at Udhampur “without adequate qualification, expertise and recognition from Medical Council of India”. Pointing out that Seema used to visit that centre during her pregnancy, the complaint said that after ultrasound tests etc, she was told by the doctor couple that the baby had normal development. Later, experts and qualified radiologists confirmed that the child in the womb suffered from “hydrocephalous disease” (cavities in brain), and that it could have been detected earlier if the sonographers/sinologists were experienced and suitably qualified, the complainants said.
Dr Manisha Langer, a qualified radiologist, told the Commission that myelo meningocele can be detected by ultrasound within 15 to 16 weeks of pregnancy. The detection rate improves after 24 to 25 weeks. However, at a belated stage, termination of her pregnancy was not advisable nor permissible, so Seema had to give birth to an abnormal child who needs nursing and attention round the clock and the process is a lifelong process.
The commission awarded Rs 20 lakh compensation to the couple for medical treatment, saying that Rs 15 lakh out of it shall be kept in a fixed deposit for the child. Another Rs 15 lakh was awarded as compensation on account of pain and suffering undergone by the parents, and Rs 1 lakh as litigation charges.