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Court orders Rs 1cr plus compensation for Negligence in baby’s birth

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Court orders Rs 1cr plus compensation for Negligence in baby’s birth

A baby born with birth defects because of Negligence, costed The Doctor and Hospital a hefty compensation of Rs. 1 Crore +…

The National Commission in its 15 pages detailed judgment came heavily on the Doctor and the Hospital in its recent ruling dated 22/04/2015 in the case of DR. (MRS.) INDU SHARMA V/s. INDRAPRASTHA APOLLO HOSPITAL (case No. 104/2002)

(see the link…)

The National Commission started its judgment with the following observations ,”“The most important and emotional event in the life of a couple is the birth of a child and it’s always a joyous occasion in the family when a newborn arrives. Most parents have a niggling fear that the nine months of pregnancy is comparable to walking through a minefield. Things can go wrong at any time. They only breathe a sigh of relief when they’ve counted all ten toes and fingers of their newborn. It’s no wonder they feel that way because it can be the most devastating thing if your baby is born with a birth defect”.

The Factual Matrix :

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The Complainant, a  BAMS Doctor herself, was trying hard for becoming pregnant and finally infertility treatment for about 4-4.5 years made her conceived, but her joy did not last long. . On 10/06/1999 she was admitted in the Hospital after spontaneous rupture of membranes and the Complainant alleged that the things started going wrong from that time itself !!! It was alleged Doctor much less any Sr. Doctor failed to perform LSCS (Lower segment Cesarian section) even after rupture of Membranes… The Complainant alleged that for speeding up the process of delivery Maximum dose of Oxycontin was administered, but it led to drop in fetal heart rate (80/minute). In the midnight of 11/12-06-1999 at about 2.30 after the emergency caesarean a female baby (named Nishta) was delivered by LSCS (Lower segment Cesarian section) weighing 3.7 kg. The baby took five minutes to cry after birth & therefore, it was alleged that, baby suffered birth asphyxia and seizures. The baby was kept on ventilator in NICU., but condition deteriorated further, the baby could not suck the milk.After 2-3 months the Baby was again admitted to the Hospital for loose motions, and after doing CT Scan etc, it was found that the baby was severally affected by the atrophy of brain, which may lead to severally mental retardation. The complainant observed that her baby, at age of 1 year 8 months, the milestones were delayed, and the episodes of seizures persisted. Baby was unable to hold her neck and unable to suck milk. The USA Doctors also gave reports adverse to the findings of Opponent Doctors. The Disability Board of AIIMS, New Delhi certified the baby as ‘95% disability’. Nishtha at the age of 12 years with disabilities and with mental retardation took her last breath on 15.1.2012.

The National Commission after going through the case papers, medical records, literature and expert opinions unequivocally allowed the Compliant and observed that A person may lie, but the documents will speak the truth. After going through several OBG and Pediatric text books, The Commission observed, that the patient with precious pregnancy was unnecessarily suffered during prolonged labour; there was administration of excessive Syntocinon which caused birth asphyxia to the baby Nishtha, who further suffered Cerebral Palsy and 95% disability. She survived in such pathetic condition for 12 years. Keeping in the view that during this period certainly her parents were whole time engaged in care of Nishtha, incurred heavy expenditure for care, medical assistance, regular medication and physiotherapy etc. from several hospitals in Delhi. Also, the parents sustained distress and suffered metal agony, further embracement in the society for 12 years. They sustained a loss of their baby forever.
It further observed In case of precious full term pregnancy, no prudent Obsterician/Gynecologist will wait for more than 24 hours after rupture of membranes and allow induction by Oxytocin stimulation. A decision in the case of Spring Meadows Hospital & Anr. v. Harjol Ahluwalia through K.S. Ahluwalia & Anr reported in (1998) 4 SCC 39. Their Lordships observed as follows: ” Very often in a claim for compensation arising out of medical negligence a plea is taken that it is a case of bonafide mistake which under certain circumstances may be excusable, but a mistake which would tantamount to negligence cannot be pardoned. In the former case a court can accept that ordinary human fallibility precludes the liability while in the latter the conduct of the defendant is considered to have gone beyond the bounds of what is expected of the skill of a reasonably competent doctor.”

The Court ordered the Hospital to bare Rs. 80 lacks plus Rs. 10 lacks towards punitive damages and the Doctor was saddled with the compensation share to the tune of Rs.20 laks…

Another decision which underlines the exercise of duty by Doctors with utmost care !! The experts may have different opinions about the Judgment, but no doubt the mental, physical, emotional loss the parents and the Baby had to suffered cannot be quantified in any measures !!!

Thanks and Regards

Adv. Rohit Erande

You can read a copy of the judgement by clicking on the link below


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