The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rs 5 lakh for loss of limb
- Doctor fined for negligence of child

Rs 5 lakh is the price that has been pegged for an act of gross medical negligence, leading to a seven-year-old boy losing a limb.

The city consumer court has ordered orthopaedic surgeon Sajal Sarkar to pay the penalty for his negligence that had caused the right arm of Shyamal Roy, now 19, to be amputated more than a decade ago.

This is the first such slap delivered on the medical community by the consumer court.

When the news was broken to Shyamal, studying in a school for the handicapped in Bankura, he did not smile. He merely embraced father Dibyendu and said: 'Justice has finally been delivered.'

It has been a long wait for Dibyendu, who recalls the fateful March afternoon in 1993 in Bankura when he lost control of his bicycle, throwing son Shyamal off it.

'He was a little boy and hurt his right arm very badly. He was in terrible pain when I took him to a local doctor, who referred me to orthopaedic surgeon Sajal Sarkar for treatment. Little did I know that Shyamal would lose his arm just because of a faulty plaster and lack of attention,' recounted Dibyendu.

The orthopaedic surgeon had diagnosed the boy's condition as 'a supra condylar fracture of the right limb', the commonest form of fracture in youngsters. He put a plaster cast around the boy's broken arm and asked his father to take him home.

But the pain would just not subside. 'Since the next day was Holi, the doctor said he was busy and asked me to come back with Shyamal the day after,' recalled Dibyendu.

Sarkar then cut open the plaster and found that the boy's arm had turned dark. He put the arm in a sling and told Dibyendu his son would be fine in a few weeks.

But when Dibyendu took the boy to some other specialists, they said the blood circulation in the arm had stopped and the tissues had started to decay.

Shyamal was rushed to SSKM Hospital, where doctors said the arm had to be amputated to prevent the infection from spreading and becoming a threat to the boy's life.

Dibyendu decided to take Shyamal to Vellore, where his right hand was amputated.

Once back in Calcutta, Dibyendu filed a case against Sarkar in the consumer court. After several years of legal wrangling, the court finally gave its verdict last week, finding Sajal Sarkar guilty of medical negligence and slapping a Rs 5-lakh compensation on him.

Sarkar's lawyer G.S. Pal, an advocate with Calcutta High Court, said: 'We will appeal against this. Senior doctors in Calcutta and elsewhere had also examined the boy. So, my client was not responsible for his condition.'

Orthopaedic experts in the city said the amputation could have been avoided had the boy been attended to immediately after he complained of pain.

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