CHENNAI: Madras High Court today directed the state government and hospital authorities to file a counter and explain their stand on paying compensation to 16 kidney failure patients who contracted Hepatitis C virus at the Stanley Government Medical College and Hospital while undergoing dialysis.
The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh, directed Secretary, Department of Health, Dean of Stanley Medical College and Hospital, and Director of Medical Education, Kilpauk, Chennai, to file reply on details of patients infected with HCV 'specifically whether infected at the time of admission or when was it detected'.
The bench issued the direction when a PIL filed by one Jayaram Venkatesan came up. The petitioner had sought a direction to authorities to list the patients who underwent dialysis from March 1 last year till date for treatment of kidney failure and Hepatitis C Virus(HCV) from the Hospital.
In addition,he sought adequate compensation besides constitution of an expert committee comprising doctors and a retired High Court Judge to find the genesis of the spread of HCV in the Stanley Hospital, among others.
The petitioner alleged that none of these patients, who had undergone dialysis and awaiting transplantation, had HCV at entry into Stanley hospital in mid last year. They were suddenly detected with HCV following a 'PCR RNA test'.
The petitioner alleged that the patients contracted the infection due to the hospital not following the infection control mechanisms resulting in an endemic disease.
The petitioner further alleged that only after protests, the Directorate of Medical Education constituted an internal inquiry committee and the committee in its report said there was no wilful negligence on the part of the nephrology department but certainly there was a lack of a robust and foolproof mechanism to vigilantly monitor for inadequacies in infection control measure.
The petitioner alleged that the hospital authorities acted negligently by not following sufficient safety procedures resulting in at least 16 patients contracting HCV.
The court asked the petitioner to file a copy of the inquiry report with the Registry.
The bench in its order further said "if this fact is verified already, adequate compensation undoubtedly has to be given by the authorities which shall also be dealt with in the counter affidavit if not really paid by them."
The petitioner sought a detailed probe into the incident, compensation for the victims and criminal proceedings against the negligent doctors.