New Delhi: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has directed the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh to pay Rs 17 lakh as compensation to the parents of Anupama Sarkar, a 16-year-old schoolgirl who died in July 2012 in what has been held by the NCDRC as a case of medical negligence.
“It is really unfortunate that due to the bureaucratic approach and red tapism adopted by the hospital, a precious life of young girl could not be saved,” a two-member NCDRC bench, comprising of presiding member Justice V B Gupta and member Suresh Chandra, said in its order dated May 21, 2015.
The court further said, the PGI “is a prestigious medical institute. Therefore, it is expected from such institute that it should work not in a purely bureaucratic manner i.e. patient should be treated as per seniority in the queue, but it should be run in a professional manner.”
It added, “The medical surgeries, operations and other emergency treatments are to be administered keeping in view the nature of ailment, seriousness and other exigencies as per the best judgement of the treating doctor. In the present case, it is an admitted fact that condition of the patient was quite serious from the time she was admitted in the hospital. Keeping in view the nature of ailment from which the patient was suffering, the hospital should not have insisted on red tapism.”
The NCDRC order quoted an inquiry conducted by the eminent doctors in this case, whose report said: “It would have been appropriate for the treating team to periodically reassess all the patients and reprioritize the OT schedule according to the seriousness of this case vis-à-vis the other cases.”
“The mechanism of injury of this patient should have raised a high index of suspicion that the patient had sustained crush injury of the thigh and was likely to develop serious complications. However, the team decided to stick to their previous waiting list and hence this patient could not be taken for surgery till 19.7.12,” the inquiry report said.
Upholding the order of the Chandigarh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission — against which the PGI had filed an appeal before the NCDRC, the bench of Justice V B Gupta and Suresh Chandra ordered an increase in the total compensation from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. Out of which, Rs 3 lakh was paid by the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) to Anupama’s parents in acquiescence with the state commission’s order in 2013.
According to the court records, on July 17, 2012, as Anupama Sarkar, a resident of Mauli Jagran complex in Chandigarh and the only child of her parents, tried to board a CTU bus near the Government Model Senior Secondary School in Sector 18, where she studied, she fell down from the bus and her left leg was crushed under the rear tyre of the vehicle. She was rushed to the Advance Trauma Centre of the PGIMER where, following alleged delay in proper medical care, she developed gangrene and septicaemia which ultimately led to the amputation of her leg. It also resulted in the spread of infection into her entire body, which took her life on July 24.
Anupama’s parents then approached the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to fight for compensation. However, denying the charges, the PGIMER in its affidavit said, “Anupama was planned for surgery at the time of admission itself, but that the procedure was delayed due to a heavy rush of patients.”
On April 4, 2013, the state commission ordered the PGIMER to pay Rs 7 lakh and CTU to pay Rs 3 lakh to Anupama’s parents. However, this order was challenged by Anupama’s parents who sought higher compensation in the national commission. The PGIMER too filed an appeal before the national commission.
Rejecting the PGIMER’s appeal, the national commission, in consonance with the findings of the state commission, stated that “from the facts and circumstances of the case, as also from the enquiry reports, it is apparent that there was considerable delay in properly treating the patient” and that the “negligence on the part of the hospital has been clearly established.”