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Stage Set For Final Hearing On India’s Biggest Ever Medical Compensation Clai

The stage is set for the final hearing of India's biggest ever medical compensation claim against doctors of a Kolkata hospital charged with negligence in a woman's death eight years ago.//

"I am hopeful about tomorrow, though I realise my case can again be postponed by the machinations of my opponents," Ohio-based AIDS researcher Kunal Saha told IANS Wednesday, a day ahead of the final hearing at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).

"If necessary, I will move the Supreme Court and see the end of this case," he added.

Saha had filed a Rs.770 million ($17 million) claim against a Kolkata hospital after the death of his wife Anuradha Saha, 36, due to alleged wrong treatment by three senior doctors in May 1998 when the couple were on a visit to India.

In the process, he has scripted one of the most high profile medical negligence cases in India.

"The claim will be over Rs.1 billion now because of the interest for the past eight years, but I have already given in writing that I would not take back a single penny to the US. The entire compensation money would be donated for healthcare in India," he said.

"Because of repeated judicial bottlenecks, I am forced to bear heavy expenses on my travels between India and US," said Saha.

"Only about three months back I had to be in India for the case, but it did not happen. Now also if it is not adjudicated, I will move the apex court," he said.

Video-conferencing has been extensively used in testimonies and cross-examinations in the case.

Saha had filed case against three doctors - Baidyanath Halder, Abani Roychowdhury and Sukumar Mukherjee - besides the AMRI hospital in Kolkata where Anuradha, a child psychologist, was treated.

She was later shifted to the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai where she died from the TEN (Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis) syndrome, a life-threatening ski n disorder characterized by a blistering and peeling of the skin's top layer.

Saha has also challenged the West Bengal government in the Supreme Court for "shielding doctors accused of medical negligence".

The case came up in Supreme Court on a writ petition challenging West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's statement in July last year that doctors could not be arrested without prior approval of a medical committee in cases of alleged negligence.

People for Better Treatment (PBT), an organisation set up by Saha and comprising doctors and other professionals, filed the lawsuit in July.

"Eight years ago, on May 28, a young life was needlessly lost due to blatantly wrong therapy by several so-called 'eminent' doctors in the city," Saha alleged.

--Edited IANS
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