CMC institution caused permanent disability to a woman because of medical negligence

The Vellore District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has on Tuesday directed the Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital, Vellore, to pay a compensation of Rs. three lakh with interest from the date of complaint till the actual payment, and Rs.10,000 by way of litigation costs, to a woman, agricultural labourer, for causing permanent disability of her right hand as a result of medical negligence.

According to the complaint by M. Meena (aged 24 at the time of the complaint filed before the forum in 2005), an agricultural labourer of Pagaveli village in Vellore taluk, she went to the CMC Hospital on May 16, 1997 for treatment of chest pain. After thorough examination, Dr. Archana referred her to Dr. Abraham who gave medicines for 15 days for chest pain and advised her to come back for a check-up after 15 days. When she went for a check-up 15 days later, the doctor told her that there was one small boil in the inside of chest, and that the boil should be immediately removed through operation. An operation was done on her right breast on May 30, 1997 for doing a biopsy of the boil. During the course of the operation, she was not able to raise her right hand. She was told that her nerves were tight and that she could not raise her hands owing to the stitches put by the doctor, and that there was nothing to worry.

On June 6, 1997, Meena went to the hospital for a check-up since the fingers of her right hand and the entire right hand were not functioning and were senseless. She was referred to Dr. Sunil Agarwal. She was told that another operation had to be done for a biopsy. When she asked about the necessity of the second operation, the doctors told her that the nerve was cut off during the first operation on May 30, 1997. She was admitted for 14 days, and discharged after a second operation on July 13, 1997.

Thereafter, she found that her right hand was motionless. She contended that owing to the wrong surgery done on her right breast, and due to the careless and negligent manner in which the doctor cut the two nerves leading to her right hand, she has no feeling in her right hand, and she is unable to do normal work. Day by day, her right hand was becoming lean and all the five fingers were not functioning.

The complainant stated that prior to coming to the CMC, she was hale and healthy, and her right arm was very much normal. She had been doing manual labour since childhood and was earning not less than Rs.3,000 per month. Now she was unable to do any work. She has become a physically handicapped person, and had to depend on a third person to do her personal works. She has been suffering pain and mental agony on account of this. She therefore prayed the forum to direct the hospital to pay a compensation of Rs. five lakh and costs of Rs.25,000.

The CMC Hospital contended that the said operation was done in a highly professional manner and that the patient was discharged after a totally successful surgery. It is absolutely false and preposterous to allege that the doctor negligently cut the nerves leading to her right hand.

It denied that the complainant's right hand had become motionless and that she was not able to do any work. “In any event, the doctors are not responsible at all as the condition alleged can never be directly or indirectly attributable to the surgery done at the hospital”, the hospital argued.

Disposing of the complaint on Tuesday, A. Sampath, president, and G. Malarvizhi and K. Dhayalamurthi, Members of the Vellore District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said that after hearing the arguments on both sides, the forum has come to the conclusion that the complainant is entitled to compensation from the hospital for her permanent disability on her right hand. In his own medical report given on October 20, 1997, the CMC Hospital doctor has mentioned that there was no improvement in the plexus and sensation in the patient's right hand.

Dr. Shanmugasundaram, an orthopaedic surgeon of Vellore, with 25 years experience who tendered evidence had stated that on examination of the patient, he found infraclavicular brachial plexus injury with complete laceration of median and ulnar nerves of the upper right limb, leading to total loss of function of four fingers and the thumb. “The expert evidence established the negligent operation done by the doctor of the opposite party (the CMC Hospital) on May 30, 1997”, the forum said.

The forum directed the CMC Hospital to pay a compensation of Rs. three lakh with interest at the rate of 6% per annum on the amount with effect from the date of complaint on June 13, 2005 till actual payment, and an amount of Rs.10,000 by way of cost of litigation to the complainant within one month from the date of the order, failing which the opposite party was liable to pay further interest at 12% per annum on the total amount for the period of delay after lapse of one month from the date of the order till the actual release of the amount.

  • CMC Hospital to pay a compensation of Rs. three lakh with interest at the rate of 6% per annum
  • Rs.10,000 by way of litigation charges within one month from the date of the order