The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rs 25000 tab for five-year torment

A simple measure of 45.7 mm x 36.1 mm x 21.8 mm of uterus left over after “total hysterectomy”. Five years of suppression of facts. Five years of continual “profuse” bleeding. The cost of it all — Rs 25,000 only.

Ashima Naskar of Joka, who went to a doctor for removal of her appendix but, instead, had her uterus removed (that too partially) at a nursing home on the southern fringes of the city, has been awarded Rs 25,000 by the consumer court.

Ashima, who had to undergo a second operation to remove the remnants of her uterus more than five years after the first surgery, will get the amount from those responsible for the original surgery, the court has decreed.

Holding the doctor and the nursing home “jointly and severally responsible for the deficiency of service”, the Alipore-based South 24-Parganas District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked them to pay up before the end of March.

But the middle-aged mother of three school-going daughters and wife of a man who earns only about Rs 3,000 every month, has now moved the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission for compensation “not less than” Rs 3 lakh.

“She feels that this is a case of an unusual deficiency in service on the part of a few members of the medical profession,” says Ashima’s lawyer, N.R. Mukerje.

Ashima’s travails date back to 1995, when she went to C.K. Haldar, complaining of a pain in her lower abdomen. The doctor suggested an appendectomy (and a tubectomy) but, during the operation (by Prabir Bijay Kar), the doctors found that her uterus needed to be removed, too.

The cost of the entire surgery was paid and Ashima was discharged from Green View Nursing Home in June 1995. A “total hysterectomy” had been conducted, the discharge certificate claimed.

Ashima went home but the bleeding just would not stop. She went back to Haldar, who suggested a few medicines, but never told her that a part of the uterus was still inside her and was causing the haemorrhage.

Without the financial wherewithal to go to another doctor immediately, she tried to cope with the bleeding for some time.

As things took a turn for the worse, she turned to another doctor, B. Mandal, who recommended an ultra-sonography of the lower abdomen. This revealed the whole truth about the “total hysterectomy”.

The defendants pleaded that it was a “bona fide” mistake to have written “total” instead of “partial hysterectomy”.

The court, however, brushed this aside and asked them to pay Rs 25,000 to Ashima, the approximate cost of the second surgery.

“But what about the pain, the bleeding and the loss of work-hours I have suffered through five years'” Ashima has asked the higher court. “I don’t think playing with human life should cost only Rs 25,000.”

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