Free Press Journal

Two doctors to pay Rs 17 L for negligence in baby’s delivery


New Delhi: A Noida-based private maternity care centre along with its two doctors have been directed by the apex consumer commission to pay a compensation of Rs 17 lakh for “negligence” while delivering a baby who became permanently disabled.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) upheld the order of the UP Consumer Commission and directed Singhal Maternity and Medical Centre along with its two owners Dr Pratibha Singhal and Dr RK Singhal to pay the compensation amount to Noida residents, Bijender Varma and his wife Renu whose son was left paralysed at the time of his birth in 2002 due to medical negligence.

“It is clear that as far as the ante-natal care checks are concerned, despite being well qualified doctors, they did not exercise the reasonable degree of care and skill that was required in the instant case both in terms of conducting the ante-natal checks and the diagnosis thereof.

“These were basic and necessary tests, which even paramedical staff have been trained to conduct. Thus, it is clear that Dr Pratibha did not adopt the practice of clinical observation and diagnosis including diagnostic tests in the case that would have been adopted by a doctor, leave alone a specialist, and, therefore, she is clearly guilty of medical negligence,” a bench headed by Justice D K Jain said.

The bench, also comprising members Vineeta Rai and Vinay Kumar, noted that the hospital had failed to conduct the required pre-birth tests and maintain the records.

It added that had the tests been done and recorded properly, the option of conducting a cesarean section, which was a safer method, would not have been ruled out by the doctors.

The commission was hearing multiple appeals by all the parties involved in the case, challenging the 2007 order of the UP State Commission which had directed the doctors and the insurers of the maternity centre to collectively pay a sum of Rs 17 lakhs to the minor’s parents.

The couple had sought enhanced compensation of Rs one crore on the ground that Rs 17 lakhs does not even cover the expenses incurred on the medical treatment undertaken so far, leave alone the continuing and future treatment.

The doctors had pleaded innocence and demanded dismissal of the case saying there was no medical negligence on their part.  Bijender approached NCDRC challenging the order of the state commission awarding him Rs 17 lakh compensation.

He stated that he got his wife admitted to Singhal Maternity Centre on August 16, 2002 for delivery of their baby. Soon after conducting various tests, the couple was informed that a normal delivery was expected, he said.

However, after the delivery, the doctors informed them that there were complications in the delivery and forceps were used to extract the child which damaged the nerves of his right hand, causing paralysis and also injured his head, he contended.

“His neck and shoulder had also turned blue due to bleeding under the skin,” he said, while adding that “this occurred because of medical negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the doctors and maternity centre at all stages of the medical treatment starting from the ante-natal checks to neo-natal care.”

He told the commission that he got his son Nishant, who is 12 years old now, examined by various eminent Neurologists, including at AIIMS, who confirmed that during the course of delivery “all the five nerves of the baby’s right hand got totally damaged”.

“Despite surgeries conducted in France and subsequently in the USA and other treatments, he continues to suffer from various disabilities,” the parents said, seeking enhancement of compensation from Rs 17 lakh to Rs one crore.