CHENNAI: In one of the highest compensations awarded in a case of medical negligence in recent times, the state consumer forum has asked a private hospital in the city to pay Rs 40 lakh to a Bangalore-based woman for the death of her husband five years ago.In her petition, B Suvarama Phani said her husband B VRamana Rao, who was in an advanced stage of tuberculosis, was wrongly diagnosed as suffering from hepatitis at MIOT Hospital, Manappakkam. He died of septicemia (poisoning of blood) after being in the ICU of the hospital. The Tamil Nadu State Consumer Complaints Redressal Commission bench, comprising president Justice R Regupathi and judicial member J Jayaram, on Tuesday ordered the hospital to pay 40 lakh to Phani within three months.
Rao, 46, an assistant general manager with a nationalised bank, went for a health check-up on April 6, 2007 under the hospital’s executive health check-up plan. Doctors at the hospital told him he had lost eight kilograms of weight and the ultra sound scan of the abdomen showed enlarged liver and spleen. He was then asked to undergo a CT scan. After the scan, Rao fell unconscious. He was shifted to the ICU, where he developed complications and died due to septicemia. Hospital authorities admitted in their reply that the dye used in the CT scan may cause severe allergic reaction in some people. “At the time of CT scan, the doctor administering the dye ought to have taken all precautions. But the doctor, knowing fully well that the dye might cause severe allergic reaction in many cases, was not prepared to face the situation, which shows that the doctor did not act with reasonable care and diligence,” said the order.
Further, the diagnosis and medication proceeded on a wrong assumption that Rao was suffering from infective hepatitis, instead of tuberculosis. Justice Regupathi said Rao died not of TB, which was the final diagnosis, but due to septicemia caused by negligent handling by hospital authorities who performed laparotomy — a surgical procedure done to gain access to the abdominal cavity — and relook laparotomy when the patient was struggling for life in a very critical condition.
Terming it gross negligence and deficiency in service, Justice Regupathi said in his order: “The patient did not die of TB but due to septicemia caused by the improper diagnostic procedure of trial and error by the hospital authorities.” Noting that the compensation was just and reasonable for the mental agony Phani had suffered and would suffer throughout her life, the bench directed the chairman and managing director of MIOT Hospitals and Dr Maran, director (minimal access & GI endosurgery), Centre for Weight Control, MIOT Hospitals to pay the sum in three months. In case of delay or failure to pay the sum, the hospital shall pay the compensation along with 9% annual interest from the date of default till the date of payment, the bench said.