Consumer Rights: AIIMS to pay Rs. 1 lakh for botched operation

AIIMS is the premier medical institute of India, and although many private hospitals have great doctors and excellent facilities, AIIMS is still seen as the best medical institution of the country. But just as a measure of how even the great ones have to pay for their mistakes, the Delhi State Consumer Court has ordered it to pay Rs. 1 lakh as compensation to the heirs of a man who lost his voice during an operation six years ago. It was alleged that the doctors at AIIMS botched up and cut a major nerve that resulted in speech loss during surgery to remove a tumour.

NEW DELHI: Holding All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) guilty of ‘‘gross medical negligence’’, the State Consumer Commission has asked it to pay Rs 1-lakh compensation to legal heirs of a patient who lost his voice after undergoing an operation there.

Presiding over the commission, Justice J D Kapoor said the medical reports had established slackness of AIIMS’ doctor. Bedi was operated at AIIMS on August 22, 2001 for removal of a tumor, but after the surgery, he was rendered unable to speak, alleged the complaint. Terming the symptom usual, the doctor who conducted the surgery assured Bedi that he would regain his voice after a few days. But in a subsequent test, he found that a nerve was cut during the surgery and a post-operative negligence in treating the same had led to paralysis of diaphragm, Bedi had claimed during the proceedings.

Slowly but steadily, the medical profession is coming under the coverage of consumer rights; and that is how it should be. Medicine is a very skilled area, and a patient literally places his or her life in the hands of the doctor. If the doctor does not behave in a skilled way or botches up an operation (literally being negligent), then the patient has his full rights to claim compensation for the same. The only shortcoming in this case is that the decision took a long time coming, and came after the patient had already died.

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