The premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has been found guilty of medical negligence by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) and ordered to pay about Rs. 50 lakhs as compensation plus interest to the kin of a person who was ‘tossed like a chattel between hospitals’ in 1997, and succumbed in the process.

The patient, since deceased, had a cardiac problem and had been advised by AIIMS to undergo a coronary artery bypass graft in 1997. He was asked to deposit Rs. 70,000 towards this procedure, and he did so. Two days after he deposited the money, he was rushed to the emergency ward of the hospital in the wee hours, with severe chest pain.

The doctors at AIIMS said there was no bed available, and referred him to the Safdurjung Hospital three hours later. No ambulance was provided, and he was taken to the second hospital by car. A few days later, he was shifted back to AIIMS, but died soon after reaching there.

The patient’s daughter sued the hospital for medical negligence, and asked for a compensation of Rs. 37 lakh.

When the case came up to the NCDRC, the Apex Consumer Disputes body noted that ideally, a patient in the throes of a heart attack should receive appropriate medication within 30 minutes of his arrival in hospital, as this would help him survive the attack. This help was not given to the patient, and instead he was asked to be taken to another hospital, and that too without the benefit of an ambulance – no reason being given for not providing one. “We have no hesitation in arriving at the conclusion that referring the patient, who was in a grave condition, to Safdarjung Hospital was sheer negligence on the part of treating doctors, and the time spent in his shifting undoubtedly proved fatal,” an NCDRC Bench said. It reminded AIIMS that like any other hospital, it would be penalized for failing to provide timely medical treatment, amounting to a violation of the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Bench awarded the man’s daughter a sum of Rs. 25 lakh as compensation, which, when the interest from the date of filing of compliant (in 1999) is calculated, will amount to over Rs 50 lakhs.


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