Taking a grim view of the death of a woman after delivering a baby girl at a Primary Health Centre (PHC), due to absence of doctors, the Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu Government to pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh to her husband. "A PHC without a doctor is like a school without teachers, and a police station without police personnel. Non availability of doctors in PHCs should be viewed seriously," the Court said in its recent order on a petition by the woman's husband, a daily wager earner.
The woman died after delivering a baby girl at the PHC at Saptoor in neighbouring Virudhunagar in January last year. Justice N Paul Vasantha Kumar said it would be no use if the 24 hour PHCs functioned without doctors or medical officers and ordered the state Director of Public Health Services to pay the compensation. The judge regretted that the incident had occurred in the same PHC two months after the High Court ordered payment of compensation for the death of another woman, also due to non availability of doctors after delivering a baby boy.
He said the two incidents demonstrated not only the "careless and indifferent attitude on the part of the Medical Officer of the PHC, but also the insensitivity of respondents; Director of Public Health Service and the Deputy Director." The Deputy Director had admitted that a doctor attended on the petitioner's wife only at 9.15 AM though she was admitted at 2 AM and her condition turned critical after
the baby was delivered at 3.15 AM.
The Judge held that negligence on the part of the doctors had been fully established and the woman's family had to be compensated.