Madras HC directs state govt to compensate for death of 8-yr-old

Acknowledging the case of an 8-year-old Dalit girl from Aruppukottai, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has directed the state government to pay a sum of Rs. 5 Lakhs as compensation for the girl’s death due to complications arising from anesthesia administered to her.

Although the inquiry committee had concluded that there was no negligence on the part of the medical authorities, the bench of Justice GR Swaminathan held that the government is obligated to disburse ex-Gratia to the affected party if the patient was admitted to a government hospital and suffered an injury or death which is not anticipated to occur in normal course of events.

The court petition was filed in 2017 by Tamil Selvi, who alleged that it was a case of medical negligence and sought compensation.

The petitioner’s daughter was suffering from tonsils and was admitted to a government hospital in Aruppukottai for treatment. She was suggested a surgery for which she was administered an anesthetic drug named 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.

The court held that with case on hand, the liability has to be fastened on the government since the institution was a government institution. The corpus fund is created by the State government that is generated with the contribution of each government doctor which is directed towards the court. The required sum is to be paid to the family within a period of 8 months.

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