A woman aged 32 who lost her baby due to a delay in conducting a caesarean operation at JIPMER Hospital in Puducherry nearly two years ago will now get a compensation of Rs.3.25 lakh, thanks to a Madras High Court judgment.

While Rs.2 lakh would be for the child’s death because of the delay in performing the surgery, Rs.1 lakh would be for the loss of uterus and Rs.25,000 for the pain and sufferings. The Court has directed JIPMER to pay the sum within four weeks.

Right to health

“The Government is spending huge money for promotion of health. However, in this case it is proved that adequate operation theatre/table is not provided in the well reputed hospital, i.e., JIPMER Hospital, Puducherry, which resulted in the death of a male child and caused physical and mental agony to the petitioner and her family. As the right to health is recognised as a fundamental right, not providing adequate table to conduct caesarean in the government hospital, either due to inadequacy of space or funds, cannot be a ground,” observed Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar.

The petitioner, Mary, was admitted as an inpatient to the Government Headquarters Hospital, Kallakurichi, on June 19. Hospital authorities told her that the operation time was only between 7 a.m. and noon and since she was already having labour pains, she was directed to go to the hospital at Salem or Puducherry.

On way to Puducherry, the petitioner’s husband took her to the Government Hospital, Mundiyambakkam, Villupuram, as she was suffering from severe pain.

The authorities there refused to admit her and directed her to approach JIPMER.

When she was admitted there, the doctors decided to conduct an emergent caesarean at 3 a.m. on June 20.

They directed the staff to shift her to a particular ward for initial preparation for the operation. But the staff shifted her to a normal ward. The doctors failed to notice this. The surgery was not done at the time already fixed. At 9.30 a.m. the uterus was found fully damaged and the male baby was dead.

The Dean of JIPMER countered that the authorities and the hospital in Tamil Nadu should pay the compensation as they could not refuse to treat the patients. There were four other caesarean sections which were of a more urgent nature than that of Mary. The operation theatre became vacant only at 9.20 a.m.

Justice Paul Vasanthakumar said it was beyond doubt that JIPMER’s action in not conducting caesarean at 3 a.m. for want of operation table was not a ground to deny compensation, particularly when it was proved that the child was alive till the time fixed for operation. The hospital was not justified in blaming other hospitals for not treating her as the woman and her husband had willingly gone to Puducherry. However, the action of the doctors and staff in the Government Hqrs. Hospital at Kallakurichi and the Government Medical College Hospital, Villupuram, in not providing treatment was contrary to the Code of Medical Ethics.

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