The Supreme Court has awarded Rs1 crore to a software engineer who became a paraplegic because of medical negligence. The judgment was ordered to the Hyderabad-based Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) to pay the money to an Infosys engineer Prashant Dhanaka, who was paralyzed waist downwards while undergoing treatment at the institute.
Justifying the payment of compensation, the court said the sum was justified “keeping in mind that a brilliant career had been cut short and there is, as of now, no possibility of improvement of his physical condition”.
Dhanaka about the verdict: “I am happy justice has been done.” But he said he was examining the possibility of filing a review petition for greater compensation. This is not for my family, which is there to offer me love and affection; it is to support the costs being incurred from the time I get up till late night when I have to wake up every three hours to prevent bed sores from worsening,” he said. “I need two attendants and a driver. There are also the daily costs on physiotherapy and occupational therapy.” But Dhanaka’s parents said they were “unhappy and shocked” over the “inadequate” compensation as they had claimed Rs 7.5 crore after carefully calculating the expenses incurred over 18 years.
This shocking incident happend when Dhanaka was a 20-year-old student in 1990 when he was admitted to the NIMS, a government-aided hospital, for treatment of a tumour in the chest cavity. He left the hospital seven months later in a wheelchair, permanently disabled.In 1993, he moved the National Consumer Redressal Commission seeking compensation of Rs 4.56 crore. The commission held the institute, its director, as well as the professors of cardio-thoracic surgery, neurosurgery, and general medicine guilty on various counts.
As though it was not an emergency, but the doctors failed to conduct the necessary pre-operative tests that would have indicated the need to involve a neurosurgeon. While removing the tumor the surgeon noticed erosion of the vertebrae and called in a neurosurgeon. By then the spinal cord had been damaged, resulting in paraplegia.Further negligence resulted in the patient developing a urinary tract infection, septicaemia, pulmonary infection, and bed sores, necessitating a seven-month hospital stay.
The Supreme Court bench recorded its “deep appreciation” of Dhanaka for arguing his own case. “He remained unruffled and behaved with dignity and equanimity and pleaded his case bereft of any rancour or invective against those who, in his perception, harmed him,” the justices observed.