Eleven years ago, a toddler admitted with cough and cold developed a gangrenous arm which had to be amputated

The Manipal Hospital in Bangalore and its four doctors have been directed by the apex consumer forum to pay Rs. 5.1 lakh towards rehabilitation of a child whose gangrenous right forearm was amputated due to their negligence.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) observed that due to the medical negligence of the hospital and its doctors — paediatrician Meera Ramakrishnan, vascular surgeon Vasudeva Rao, consultant paediatric Arvind Shenoy and paediatric surgeon Jayanth Iyengar — “the child has to spend the entire life without her right forearm”. “Doctors have not been able to explain how the gangrene occurred. Therefore … medical negligence is clearly established.”

A bench presided by Justice Ashok Bhan directed the hospital and doctors to jointly pay Rs. 5 lakh to the parents “for the rehabilitation of baby Sandria by providing artificial limb and proper education and care” and also ordered Manipal Hospital to pay Rs. 10,000 as cost.

The order came on the appeals filed by the parents, Alfred and Rani Benedict, and the hospital and doctors, both sides challenging the order of the State commission which had directed the hospital and doctors to pay Rs. 5.1 lakh as compensation.

The parents, in their complaint before the Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission had submitted that in August 2002 they had taken their then two-year-old daughter, who was suffering from cold and cough, to Dr. Shenoy who had advised them to admit the child in Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.

Thereafter, she was diagnosed as suffering from pneumonia and was given intravenous fluids through a needle in her right arm. The parents alleged the needle blocked the blood supply, turning the forearm gangrenous, resulting in amputation.

While the parents had sought enhancement of compensation from the NCDRC, the opposite party contended they had not been negligent and the unfortunate complication occurred as the patient, who had pneumonia, had gone into septic shock.

The NCDRC rejected the hospital’s contention, saying “it appears they (doctors) have not followed the standards of medical practice”.

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