Medical negligence: US doc gets Rs 1.77 cr in damages

Oct 22 2011, 03:47 IST
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Awarding a record compensation in a medical negligence case, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) Friday directed a Kolkata hospital, Advanced Medicare and Research Institute Limited Hospital, and three doctors to pay Rs 1.77 crore to a US doctor for the death of his wife during treatment in 1998.

However, Dr Kunal Saha, husband of Anuradha Saha, said he was not happy and would move the Supreme Court. “I had demanded compensation of Rs 97 crore,” he said over the phone from the US.

But he said “the compensation is the highest ever in medical legal history and should send a strong signal to negligent doctors and hospitals in India”.

The NCDRC said, “The foreign residence of the complainant or the patient and the income of the deceased patient are relevant factors but compensation awarded by an Indian forum cannot be at par with what is ordinarily granted by foreign courts in such cases.”

Anuradha, a child psychologist, during her visit to Kolkata in 1998 developed rashes on her body. On may 11, she was admitted to the hospital and was treated by doctors Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder, Abani Roychaudhury and Balaram Prasad. As there was no improvement, she was shifted to Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, where she died on May 28. The doctors there said she was suffering from Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, a rare and deadly dermatological disease.

Following her death, Saha filed a criminal case against the four doctors and the hospital. He also lodged a complaint with NCDRC in Delhi.

In 2006, after the NCDRC dismissed his complaint, Saha moved the Supreme Court. In 2009, the SC held that there was medical negligence and directed the NCDRC to decide the relief amount. The court, however, quashed the criminal case.

On Friday, the NCDRC fixed Rs 1,77,87,500 as the amount of compensation. Of this, Saha would get Rs 1,55,60,000 within eight weeks. The NCDRC said the hospital and Dr Mukherjee would have to pay Rs 40.40 lakh each, and Dr Halder and Dr Prasad Rs 26.93 lakh each. The court has also awarded compensation of Rs 5 lakh towards cost of litigation. As Dr Chaudhury is no more, the compensation amount to be paid by him was deducted.

Sandip Jhunjhunwala, associate vice-president of the hospital, said he would comment only after getting a copy of the order.

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