Pay compensation to girl’s family, says HC


The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has directed the State government to pay a sum of ₹ 5 lakh to the family of an eight-year-old girl from Aruppukottai in Virudhunagar district who died after developing complications when she was administered anesthesia by an anesthetist. The inquiry committee had concluded that there was no medical negligence.

The court was hearing the petition filed in 2017 by the girl’s mother Tamil Selvi. She said that her daughter who was suffering from tonsils and had been admitted to Government Hospital in Aruppukottai. While preparing her for a surgery, anesthesia was administered to her. However, she developed complications.

She was referred to the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai for further treatment. But the child went into a coma and subsequently died. The mother of the child alleged that it was a case of medical negligence and sought compensation. An inquiry conducted on the incident concluded that there was no medical negligence.

The court took note of the fact that the child was administered a drug known as Propofol. It was not an intrinsically dangerous drug and was administered to children above three years. However, it is said that there may be implications on children with mitochondrial diseases. There was nothing on record to indicate that the deceased child had such a disease, the court said.

Justice G.R. Swaminathan observed that there were 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, there was no ground to hold that the anesthetists had committed any act of medical negligence, the judge said.

However, taking into account that neither the petitioner nor her child was at fault, the judge observed that when a patient was admitted to a government hospital for treatment and he / she suffers any injury or death which was not anticipated to occur in the normal course of events, even in the absence of medical negligence, the government was obliged to disburse ex-gratia to the affected party.

The court said that in the case on hand, liability has to be fastened on the government. Since the institution happens to be the government institution, the State government will have to necessarily face the consequences. A corpus fund has been created by the State government. It appears that every government doctor contributes a certain sum of money towards this corpus fund and whenever compensation is directed to be paid by the courts, the amount will be drawn from this fund and paid, the judge said and directed a compensation of ₹.5 lakh be paid to the family within eight weeks.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 3:59:37 PM |

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