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Consumer Court Dismisses India’s Biggest Ever Medical Error Claim

by Medindia Content Team on June 2, 2006 at 6:24 PM
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Consumer Court Dismisses India’s Biggest Ever Medical Error Claim

The apex consumer court in New Delhi Thursday dismissed the case of highest-ever medical compensation claim filed by India-born US scientist Kunal Saha for the death of his wife in 1998 due to alleged wrongful treatment.

The judgement of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has 'shocked' the AIDS researcher.

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'This judgement is utterly shocking not just for myself, but also for the millions of ordinary Indian citizens who seek justice against the hitherto 'untouchable' Indian doctors,' Saha told IANS from Ohio.

He vowed to see the end by moving the Supreme Court immediately against the judgement.

Saha had filed a Rs.770 million ($17 million) claim against a Kolkata hospital (AMRI) after the death of his wife Anuradha Saha, 36, due to alleged wrong treatment by three senior doctors - Baidyanath Halder, Abani Roychowdhury and Sukumar Mukherjee - in May 1998 when the couple were on a visit to Kolkata.
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The NCDRC observed in its judgement while dismissing the case: "Whether the courts or the consumer fora can sit in appeal against the decision taken by the expert doctors with regard to administration of a particular dose of medicine? Answer would be - No.'

'It is to be judged in the light of particular circumstance of each case. Jurisdiction of the consumer fora would be limited in case of apparent deficiency in prescribing dose of medicine, i.e., in cases where doctors have not taken reasonable degree of care in prescribing a particular dose of medicine,' said the order given by a three-member panel led by NCDRC president M.B. Shah.

'Claim in the complaint is in crores i.e. Rs.77,76,73,500/- which is rate while the disease suffered by the wife of the complainant was also rare- TEN (Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis) which affects only 1 or 1.3 persons, out of 10 lakhs (1 million),' the order said.

'We reiterate that doctors or surgeons do not undertake that they will positively cure a patient. With regard to the alleged deficiency in the treatment given to Mrs. Anuradha by opposite party doctors, there is no substance.

'The contention against the hospital that it was not having burns ward, and, therefore, the deceased suffered is also without substance. Hence, this complaint is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs,' the judgement said.

'The judgement failed to discuss the medical opinion from numerous experts that I've produced from around the world or the fact that none of the accused doctors was able to bring even a single medical expert,' Saha said.

'The judgement has also remained silent that I vouched under oath that every rupee from this case would be spent for promotion of health in India.'

'The NCDRC has dismissed the case on two basic grounds - that the primary doctors were acquitted and that the West Bengal Medical Council has found no fault in the treatment.

'Although the Calcutta High Court acquitted the three doctors from criminal charges after the trial court had convicted them, after hearing both sides, the Supreme Court has already allowed my special leave petition challenging the high court acquittal. The criminal case is currently pending at the court for final decision,' Saha said.

'We are aware about the corrupt nature of the medical councils. Do we even need a consumer court if the decision of the medical council is considered infallible?' he asked.

Saha formed the People for Better Treatment, a patients' forum, in course of his multi-million-dollar legal fight in the lowest to the highest court in India for justice.

Source: IANS News
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