SC relief for Chennai girl: ‘By the time we came to know of the mistakes, it was too late’
“My child’s suffering cannot ever be mitigated by any compensation. But we fought the case for 18 years and finally I am happy that justice has prevailed,” said V Krishnakumar, father of the Chennai girl who is set to receive Rs 1.8 crore as compensation for a failed eye surgery and medical negligence at a government hospital.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to pay the sum to the victim who is now 18 years old.
Her father, 49 year-old Krishnakumar, is a middle-level employee at a private firm and the family lives in a small house in the city. “As per media reports, the major ground cited in the judgment is the failed eye surgery. But, that was one among several other issues we submitted in our affidavit. Not only did she lose her vision, she could not move about alone and suffered from multiple disabilities that denied her the normal life of a woman. All that was caused due to those unfortunate incidents following her birth at the hospital,” he said, adding that his daughter was currently studying at a special school.
The girl had lost her vision due to negligence during a retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) surgery. ROP is a potentially blinding eye disorder that affects premature babies weighing less than one kilogram. The girl was born at the Government Hospital for Women and Children in Chennai on August 30, 1996. She was born premature and was kept in an incubator unit for 25 days.
In their plea, the girl’s parents had said that the hospital did not inform them that the child was prone to retinal detachment. They were also not briefed of the risk of ROP, they said.
Moreover, the hospital did not alert them about the consequences of administering supplemental oxygen and blood transfusion.
“We spent lakhs in her treatment, but she could not move. By the time we came to know about the mistakes in her treatment, it was too late. Due to multiple disabilities developed at the beginning of her life, it has become difficult for any medicine to cure her. I cannot say that the treatment she underwent in the past 18 years brought any major improvement. She is still under medication and we hope that she will improve mentally and physically over the years,” he said.
Krishnakumar added: “I am yet to see the judgment copy. I thank the court for understanding our plight. When public hospitals are the only affordable option for the common man, I believe this verdict sends a strong message,” he said.
The first order from the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in this regard came in 2008 with the commission ordering that the girl be paid a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
The same year, Krishnakumar filed an appeal in the apex court. The trial in the case started last year and on Wednesday, a bench comprising Justice J S Khehar and Justice S A Bobde directed the Tamil Nadu government to pay the compensation.