State Should Compensate For Unforeseen Death Or Medical Injury: Madras High Court

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Madras High Court | Source: Wikipedia

The petitioner in the case is the parents of the deceased. The deceased is an 8-year-old girl who was admitted to the government hospital at Aruppukottai. She was suffering from tonsils and was advised to undergo surgery. During the administration of anaesthesia, she suffered from complications. She was then shifted to Rajaji Government Hospital in Madurai where she went into a coma. She later died. The petition was filed by her mother, Tamil Selvi who alleged medical negligence while seeking compensation for the same.

Madras High Court | Source: Wikipedia

Observations

The Court noted that the drug which was administered was Propofol. This drug is usually administered to children above the age of 3 and was not a dangerous drug. However, there have been instances of the drugs causing complications in people already suffering from a pre-existing mitochondrial condition. There is no evidence to point out that the deceased child suffered from such a disease. It was also noted that there are instances where a drug need not necessarily have an effect as anticipated.

Court Order

The order stated that “when a patient is admitted to a hospital and suffers any injury or death which is not anticipated to occur in the normal course of events, even in the absence of medical negligence, the government is obliged to disburse ex-gratia to the affected party.”

The Court while negating any medical negligence in the said instance quoted that “There are always instances when a drug does not accord with the body of the patient and that leads to unfortunate complications. The case on hand appears to be one such. Therefore, I do not find any ground to hold that the respondent anaesthetists have committed any act of medical negligence.”

The single-judge bench Justice GR Swaminathan ordered the state to compensate the parents with Rs 5 lakh as there exists an obligation for the state to reimburse the affected party in case of death or injury which is unexpected that occurs in a government hospital. “When a patient is admitted in a government hospital for treatment and he/she suffers any injury or death which is not anticipated to occur in the normal course of events, even in the absence of medical negligence, the government is obliged to disburse ex-gratia to the affected party.”

The Court also ordered the compensation to be paid within 8 weeks from the date of the order.

Case: Tamil Selvi v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors.


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