Madhya Pradesh: Maternal death due to CHC staff negligence
Gangaram vs. Public Health and Family Welfare Department A petition was filed before the Hon’ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh (Indore Bench) on 12/03/2018 in relation to a grave violation of fundamental rights. The petitioner in the instant case belongs to the economically weaker and socially backward strata of society. The petitioner’s wife, namely Ruda Devi, who was pregnant at the time began to experience some labour pain on 29/09/2017 at 2am and consequently was rushed to PHC (Primary Health Centre) Mandav where she was asked to undergo a sonography test. The results of the ultrasound revealed that she was carrying twins in her womb. She was advised to get admitted in a Community Health Centre (CHC) for delivery of the twins. There was an unprecedented delay in the arrival of the ambulance supposed to take her to CHC due to which she delivered the twins in PHC Mandav itself. As a result of a lack of medical staff and competent doctors, the petitioner’s wife bled excessively. The nurse simply ignored the qualms of her family in this regard by dismissing it as “no cause for concern.” The petitioner’s wife ultimately died upon giving birth. Apart from a compensation of Rs. 20 Lakh for grave violation of fundamental rights, the petitioner has also prayed for strict action to be taken against the authorities responsible as well as a heavy penalty imposed against PHC Mandav in light of the nature of events that transpired. The prayers made by the petitioner before the Madhya Pradesh High Court also involved demands for a competent full staff including a qualified female gynaecologist to be appointed at both Primary and Community Health Care Centres as well as a Janni Suraksha Van facility to be made available 24/7. After the first hearing of the case, a notice was issued. An order dated 3/5/2018 was passed by the court asking all the respondents to reply to the petition. Depending upon the nature of allegation and relief sought in the petition, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh shall examine the nature of the petition and determine whether it is a PIL in accordance with the High Court Rules. Health care centres such as PHCs and CHCs are relied upon by a vast majority of citizens of this country therefore adequate staffing with proper qualifications and training becomes essential so as to ensure the safety of the citizens availing the aid of such institutions. Janni Suraksha Van facilities available 24/7 are crucial so as to ensure safe and around the clock transportation of women to the hospital for delivery. Lack of such basic facilities and grave negligence by staff must not be overlooked and strict action must be taken against those at fault so as to prevent such instances from re-occurring in the future. This case is significant as the court’s verdict in favour of the petitioner may serve as a precedent bringing about stricter rules and government guidelines that hospitals must adhere to. Additionally, hospitals must also be made to take proper care of its patients by providing them with iron tablets, nutritional packets etc.