In a groundbreaking verdict, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has upheld a decision to grant ₹13.77 lakh in compensation to a woman who, 12 years after surgery at a Pondicherry clinic, discovered nuts and bolts inside her body [Clinic Nallam & Anr v. Helen Victoria & Anr].
Presiding Member Sudip Ahluwalia and Member J Rajendra affirmed the State Commission's decision, emphasizing the woman's right to adequate compensation. The Commission acknowledged her "unbearable pain, suffering, and hardship," citing her inability to perform daily tasks, sleepless nights, and financial losses incurred during the period.
The victim, after a 1991 surgery, faced health complications like dizziness, chronic headaches, and urinary tract infections. Despite seeking various treatments, the foreign objects were unidentified until a 2003 surgery revealed a nut and bolt inside her. Alleging negligence by the clinic, she sought ₹84,00,000, and more under the Consumer Protection Act.
The State Commission partially granted her plea, awarding ₹13.77 lakh for medical treatment, household services, pain, loss of normal life, and childcare. Unhappy with the clinic's appeal, the NCDRC rejected claims of time-barred complaints, highlighting the victim's unawareness due to a doctor's failure in 1997 to disclose the presence of foreign objects.
"In 1997, the Complainant sought medical help from Dr. Janarthanan and underwent a kidney X-ray, which revealed a 'butterfly-shaped object.' However, the doctor did not provide appropriate guidance," noted the NCDRC.
The NCDRC's refusal to interfere with the State Commission's decision marks a significant precedent in ensuring justice for victims of medical negligence.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University