The Supreme Court of India has ordered a huge compensation of Rs.1 crore to a computer engineer who became a paraplegic following a surgery gone haywire.
The operation was performed at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), a premier hospital in Hyderabad, southern India, back in 1990.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission had ordered a measly Rs.15.5 lakh. The hospital won't pay even that and went on appeal. The victim, Prashanth S. Dhanaka, too appealed, praying for increased compensation.
Arguing from his wheelchair, Mr.Dhanaka recalled that he went to the hospital in September 1990 for a check-up as he was suffering from on and off fever for one year.
On examination, it was noticed that he had a large mass in his left hemithorax (chest cavity).
He felt that since the tumour ws a neurogenic one, the surgery should have been handled by a neurosurgeon, but it was not.
The surgery disrupted the nervous system badly, leaving him a paraplegic.
But the hospital denied it had been remiss on any count and maintained that allegations were not supported by any material evidence.
But a division bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agrawal, H.S. Bedi and G.S. Singhvi dismissed the hospital's contentions and awarded the landmark compensation.
Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Bedi said, "We have no other option but to conclude that the attending doctors were severely remiss in conducting the operation and it is on account of the neglect the paraplegia had set in. The support necessary for a severely handicapped person comes at an enormous price; physical, financial and emotional not only on the victim but even more so on the family attendant that saps their energy and destroy the equanimity."
Praising the appellant for arguing himself, the Bench said: "We must record that though a deep injury was discernible, through his protracted struggle, while confined to a wheelchair, he remained unruffled and behaved with quite dignity, pleading his own case bereft of any rancour or invective for those who in his perception had harmed him."
The Bench, while calculating the compensation, took into consideration the emotional and physical trauma he underwent, loss of marriage, his brilliant academic career, his future income and the medical expenditure he would incur for the rest of his life.