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'Strict Liability': Madras High Court Orders Interim Compensation To The Parents Of An Infant Whose Thumb Was Allegedly Severed By Nurse

Shrutika Pandey
23 Jun 2021 5:08 PM GMT
Strict Liability: Madras High Court Orders Interim Compensation To The Parents Of An Infant Whose Thumb Was Allegedly Severed By Nurse
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The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu Government to pay an interim compensation of Rs. 75,000/- to the parents of the newborn whose thumb was allegedly cut-off by a staff nurse in the Government Rajah Mirasdar Hospital, Thanjavur. A single judge bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh further directed the State Government to get the child admitted to...

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The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu Government to pay an interim compensation of Rs. 75,000/- to the parents of the newborn whose thumb was allegedly cut-off by a staff nurse in the Government Rajah Mirasdar Hospital, Thanjavur.

A single judge bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh further directed the State Government to get the child admitted to a Multi-Speciality Hospital for specialised surgery to ensure that the child does not suffer a permanent disability.

A newborn was admitted to the Government Rajah Mirasdar Hospital, Thanjavur, since she was suffering from Congenital Anomalies. One day when the toddler's parents returned to the ward where the child was admitted, they found the thumb of the left hand lying on the floor severed, and she was bleeding profusely. The parents found that a hospital staff nurse, while removing the paediatric venflon (cannula) from the left thumb, wrapped with the surgical tape, had cut a portion of the left-hand thumb of the child. The doctors performed immediate surgery to stitch up the severed thumb. Further, the child was kept in observation by a panel of doctors. Another operation was performed by the Plastic Surgeon accompanied by a Paediatric Surgeon.

Lawyer For the Tamil Nadu Government informed the Court that an enquiry committee enquired the parents and the nurse staff and sent its report to the second respondent. The learned Government Advocate also submitted before the Court that the parents' request for compensation has already been forwarded to the Government and is under active consideration.

The contention of the counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner is that despite the surgery, the thumb is not properly fixed, causing the child to suffer from a permanent disability. He prayed before directing the Government to shift the child to a Multi-Specialty hospital, where an attempt can be made to fix the child's thumb, bringing it back to normalcy. He also contended that the sight of watching the severed thumb lie on the ground while the child was bleeding profusely had caused a lot of trauma and mental agony to the parents.

The Court held that in cases of this nature, the strict liability theory, which is otherwise called Rylands Vs. Fletcher Doctrine, is to be necessarily applied.

"The incident taken as such, prima facie shows that there is negligence and hence, some interim compensation must be paid by the Government to the parents of the child. Such a positive response from the Government is expected in a welfare State."

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