Civil Appeal No. 4119 of 1999Facts:- The respondent (Prasanth Dhananka) was admitted to the appellant hospital (NIMS) because he had a tumor in his chest. The staff without consulting a specialist performed surgery removing the tumor damaging neurological blood vessels, paralyzing the respondent. He then filed a complaint before NCDRC claiming medical negligence on the part of the doctors and claimed compensation. The commission awarded fifteen lacs compensation to the respondent. Both the parties appeared in the Supreme Court, one claiming that the compensation was not enough and the other party stating that the consent of the patient was taken and hence they are not liable to pay the compensation
- Whether the consent of the patient will dissolve the liability of the doctors in medical negligence or not?
- Whether the compensation awarded in the case was sufficient or not?
Judgment:- The Hon’ble Court after examining all the evidence and acknowledging Several Global establishments in medicine awarded an exemplary compensation of one crore rupees to the respondent for all the torment he and his family had undergone as it was medical negligence on behalf of the hospital. The consent as argued by the appellant that is given by the patient for the biopsy cannot (except in few cases) be levied as consent for the surgery. The court stated that “the ‘adequate compensation’ that we speak of, must to some extent, be a rule of the thumb measure, and as a balance has to be struck, it would be difficult to satisfy all the parties concerned.”The Hon’ble Court also laid down a few guidelines concerning the compensation awarded in cases of medical negligence:
- Medical negligence and error or misjudgment in medical treatment are not similar.
- If the standard of care is present, then it is not medical negligence.
- A balance is made between the compensation demanded by the aggrieved party and claims made by the opposite party. Sympathy for the victim should not blindside the court in awarding the compensation.
- The compensation should be reasonable to provide a means of survival for the victim.
Conclusion:- The Hon’ble court by awarding an exemplary compensation, the highest-ever awarded in the cases of medical negligence set a precedent for future cases. The court has set up guidelines for the assessment of the compensation not motivated by compassion or empathy but reasonable discretion of the court.