Supreme Court: In a case of medical negligence where a minor surgery resulted in amputating a woman’s arm, the bench of Abhay Manohar Sapre and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ Rs. 10 Lakhs towards compensation, over and above the amount awarded by the Himachal Pradesh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The Court said that such granting of reasonability higher amount of compensation was necessary to serve dual purposes:

  • to provide some succour and support to the appellant against the hardship and disadvantage due to amputation of right arm; and
  • to send the message to the professionals that their responsiveness and diligence has to be equi-balanced for all their consumers and all the human beings deserve to be treated with equal respect and sensitivity.

The Woman brought to the Court’s notice that she continuously suffered excruciating pain during the entire surgical procedure and despite bringing the fact to the knowledge of the medical practitioners during and after the procedure, no measures were taken to redress and reduce the discomfort suffered by her.  Calling it ‘an uncomfortable fact’, the Court said that not attending her immediately and snubbing her with the retort that ‘the people from hilly areas make unnecessary noise’, obviously, added insult to the injury and were least expected of the professionals on public duties.

Stating that the National Commission had been too restrictive in award of compensation, the Court said:

“Ordinarily, the general damages towards pain and suffering as also loss of amenities of life deserve to be considered uniformly for the human beings and the award of compensation cannot go restrictive when the victim is coming from a poor and rural background; rather, in a given case like that of the appellant, such a background of the victim may guide the adjudicatory process towards reasonably higher amount of compensation.”

The National Commission gad quantified the amount of compensation only at Rs. 2,00,000.

[Shoda Devi v. DDU/Ripon Hospital Shimla, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 334, decided on 07.03.2019]

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