Mumbai, Sep 17 The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the BMC to pay an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family of a 32-year-old man from the city who died in 2018 after getting pulled into an MRI machine at the civic-run BYL Nair Hospital.
The accident and subsequent death of Rajesh Maru were caused due to the negligence of the hospital authorities, observed a bench of justices Akil Kureshi and S J Kathawalla.
It held that all material evidence on record had led the court to come to “strongly conclude” that “but for the negligence of the hospital authorities, the unfortunate incident wouldn’t have occurred”.
Therefore, the authorities could not escape their liability of compensating the family of Maru for the incident, the judges said.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Maru’s family seeking compensation.
The court said pending the completion of the police probe into the case and the final hearing in the matter before it, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) must pay the compensation amount of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family.
It asked the civic body to pay the amount to the family through a five-year fixed deposit in a bank.
According to the court, on January 28, 2018, Maru had gone to Nair Hospital in central Mumbai to visit a relative admitted there. The same evening, the relative was taken for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan within the hospital premises.
Maru and his relative were accompanied by a ward boy and a female attendant up to the ‘MRI lobby ‘ of the hospital.
There, as per protocol, Maru and his relative were directed to rid themselves of all metallic objects considering the presence of strong magnetic waves of the MRI machine.
However, the ward boy then asked Maru to carry an oxygen cylinder meant for his relative into the MRI scan room, the court noted.
According to the plea, this ward boy had assured Maru that the MRI machine inside the room would be switched off and therefore, there was no risk in carrying the cylinder inside.
The BMC and hospital authorities, however, have not confirmed if such an assurance was given to Maru.
It turned out that the machine hadn’t been switched off and so when Maru entered the scan room with the oxygen cylinder, he got pulled towards the MRI machine.
His left hand and a part of his body got stuck into the machine and the oxygen cylinder started to leak. Maru sustained injuries from being sucked into the machine and from inhaling huge quantity of leaked oxygen, the court noted.
He subsequently succumbed to those injuries.
An internal inquiry by the hospital and the civic authorities charged the ward boy and the female attendant for “negligence”.
The hospital and the BMC, however, opposed the plea filed by Maru’s family on the ground the FIR registered in the case and statements of witnesses, among other things, did not establish clearly the reason why Maru was pulled into the machine.
The court, however, noted that the FIR, witnesses’ statements, the civic inquiry and the affidavit filed in the high court by the hospital, confirmed the “fundamental issue” raised in the plea — that Maru had not entered the MRI scan room without permission, and more significantly, that he had been handed over the oxygen cylinder by the ward boy.
Therefore, a clear case of negligence on part of the hospital staff had been established, the court said.
The judges said at the present stage, the court needn’t get into the question whether the ward boy had assured Maru that the MRI machine would be switched off.
“This court also can’t lose sight of the fact that the hospital authorities charged two of their employees with negligence in the case,” the court said.
“As per the employer, its staff was negligent in discharging their duties. Therefore,with a view to avoid such incidents, the BMC has to pay interim compensation,” it said.