Apex consumer forum awards Rs 1.73 crore compensation in a case of medical negligence

Friday, October 21, 2011

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has awarded a compensation of Rs 1.73 crore to be paid by three Kolkata doctors — Dr Sukumar Mukherjee, Dr Baidyanath Halder and Dr Balaram Prasad — and the Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI) hospital in Kolkata to US-based Dr Kunal Saha for the death of his wife Anuradha Saha while undergoing treatment at the hospital in 1998.

Anuradha Saha

The AMRI hospital and the doctors were found guilty of negligence by the Supreme Court in 2009 and the case was referred to the NCDRC for the sole purpose of determining quantum of compensation. The NCDRC earlier found no negligence by doctors or AMRI and had dismissed the case in 2006, forcing Dr Kunal Saha to approach the apex court.

The NCDRC deducted 10 per cent from the compensation amount on account of Dr Kunal Saha’s interference during Anuradha’s treatment. Another guilty doctor Dr Abani Roy Chowdhury is dead so the amount of Rs 25.93 lakh due to be paid by him has been deducted from the compensation package.

According to the NCDRC judgement, while Dr Sukumar Mukherjee and the AMRI hospital will have to pay Dr Kunal Saha Rs 40.4 lakh each, Dr Baidyanath Halder and Dr Balaram Prasad will each have to pay Rs 26.93 lakh. The total amount Dr Saha will receive will be Rs 1.34 crore.

This is by far the highest compensation in a medical negligence case. Previously, the Supreme Court, in May 2009, had awarded the highest ever compensation of Rs 1 crore to a wheelchair-bound Infosys engineer Prashant S Dhananka for medical negligence in a surgery by Hyderabad’s Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), which damaged his spinal chord.

Dr Kunal Saha, who had claimed a compensation of more than Rs 77 crore for his wife’s “wrongful death”, has decided to challenge the NCDRC’s verdict in the Supreme Court for enhancement of the compensation.

“This judgment makes mockery of justice. It is too meagre an amount of compensation in context of this case,” Dr Kunal Saha, who has already pledged to donate the entire amount to People for Better Treatment, a voluntary group set up by him in Kolkata to fight against medical negligence and corruption in medical field, has added. [Source: India Today, Economic Times, Times of India]

Read the full judgement here

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