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Medical Negligence- Award Of Compensation Cannot Go Restrictive When The Victim Is From Poor And Rural Background:SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
7 March 2019 2:31 PM GMT
Medical Negligence- Award Of Compensation Cannot Go Restrictive When The Victim Is From Poor And Rural Background:SC [Read Judgment]
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"We are impelled to make these observations in the context of an uncomfortable fact indicated on record that when the appellant was writhing in pain, she was not immediately attended at and was snubbed with the retort that 'the people from hilly areas make unnecessary noise'."

Responsiveness and diligence of Medical Professionals has to be equi-balanced for all their consumers, said the Supreme Court while enhancing compensation to a woman who suffered due to medical negligence.The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed:"The general damages towards pain and suffering as also loss of amenities of life deserve to...

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Responsiveness and diligence of Medical Professionals has to be equi-balanced for all their consumers, said the Supreme Court while enhancing compensation to a woman who suffered due to medical negligence.

The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed:

"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. When the appellant is shown to be a poor lady from rural background, her contribution in ensuring the family meeting both ends also deserves due consideration. With her disablement and reduced contribution, the amount of compensation ought to be of such level as to provide relief in reasonable monetary terms to the appellant and to her family"

The lady, who was from a very poor and rural background, had suffered the medical negligence leading to amputation of her right arm, at the age of 45. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, found that it was a case of medical negligence quantified the amount of compensation only at Rs. 2,00,000. The lady approached the Apex court seeking enhancement of compensation.

The Apex court bench observed that, the National Commission, even after appreciating the troubles and trauma as also disablement and disadvantage suffered by the woman, had been too restrictive in award of compensation. It said that the award of compensation cannot go restrictive when the victim is coming from a poor and rural background. The bench observed:

"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 (of course, after having regard to all the attending circumstances)."

The bench said that granting of reasonability higher amount of compensation in the present case would serve dual purposes. It added:

"One, to provide some succour and support to the appellant against the hardship and disadvantage due to amputation of right arm; and second, 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. We are impelled to make these observations in the context of an uncomfortable fact indicated on record that when the appellant was writhing in pain, she was not immediately attended at and was snubbed with the retort that 'the people from hilly areas make unnecessary noise'. Such remarks, obviously, added insult to the injury and were least expected of the professionals on public duties."

The bench said that, given her background, the amount of compensation ought to be of such level as to provide relief in reasonable monetary terms to her and to her family. It then enhanced the compensation by an amount of Rupees Ten Lakhs, over and above the amount awarded by the State Commission and the National Commission.

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