Government of Tamil Nadu, South India has informed the Madras High Court that it would pay Rs 3 lakh each as interim compensation for those who acquired hepatitis C infection while undergoing dialysis at Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Chennai.
The bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam asked the government to enhance the interim compensation given to the families of two people who have since died due to the infection.
The orders were passed after Jayaram Venkatesan of Mylapore, filed public interest litigation (PIL). Venkatesan brought to the court`s notice the fact that in September-October last year about 16 kidney failure patients who had been undergoing periodical dialysis at Stanley Hospital acquired hepatitis-C infection at the government facility.
"After the infection issue surfaced, none of these patients were called for dialysis, resulting in the death of one patient, Rajini, in October 2014," he said. Since the hospital does not have a dedicated facility to handle dialysis of patients carrying hepatitis C, they were not given further treatment, as authorities did not want to risk a spread, the PIL said.
Most of the infected patients are young and sole breadwinners of their families and dialysis patients with hepatitis C have a shorter life span than those without the infection. Therefore a compensation for the negligence was demanded.
The PIL wanted the court to recall records of all dialysis patients from March 1, 2014 and screen them for infection, constitute a committee comprising a retired high court judge and doctors, and direct the authorities to initiate domestic and criminal cases against the erring doctors, besides awarding compensation to the victims.
Tamil Nadu health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan appeared before the court and said, "A decision has been taken to disburse Rs 3 lakh as interim compensation, and the needful will be done within a week's time."