Free services cannot be construed to imply non-accountability: Govt hospital to compensate woman for failed Tubectomy
New Delhi: Apex consumer commission, NCDRC, has allowed a woman compensation for two failed sterilisation procedures under a free priority programme of the government conducted in 1994 and 1998. Though the commission did not record it as a case of medical negligence, it observed that defence of 'free services' cannot be construed to imply non-accountability.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), while noting that the litigation has taken over one and a half decades, directed the Civil Hospital, where Kaur had undergone the two surgeries, to compensate her as per the existing government guidelines regarding such failed procedures.
The compensation limit provided by government in cases of failed tubectomy operation is Rs 30,000.
"The ends of justice will be met, and the equities will be balanced, with the Civil Hospital, Payal through its Senior/Chief Medical Officer/Superintendent ensuring that all (repeat all) compensation etc, provided by the state government as per the extant (repeat extant) guidelines and policy in respect of each of the two failed procedures, individually, is paid to the complainants with interest at the rate of 10% per annum from the respective dates of failure till actual payment(s)," NCDRC Presiding member S M Kantikar said.
"We may but explicitly remark that defence of free services cannot be construed to imply carte blanche for medical negligence or non-accountability," the commission said.
The district forum had in 2005 dismissed Kaur's complaint saying she was not a consumer as the services for sterilisation were free. The Punjab consumer commission had similarly dismissed the plea in 2011.
The NCDRC observed that earlier sterilisation procedures in government hospitals were conducted in huge volumes and with limited means.
It said that earlier, failure in tubectomy was reported for a range of reasons, however, it went down progressively.
"Family planning welfare was a priority programme of the government. Sterilisation procedures in the government hospitals were conducted in huge volumes, the number of patients was large, the wherewithal were limited. On occasions, failure in tubectomy was reported, for a range of reasons."
"Gradually, the wherewithals in government hospitals improved, with the improvement being a continuous process, and the failures went down progressively," the commission said.