A ‘cock & bull story’ costs doctors twelve lakh rupees

  • Posted on: June 21, 2019

Taking specific, separate and an informed consent for different interventions is mandatory by law. Any deviation from this is never taken lightly by the courts, as this case demonstrates.

Dalim had taken her old mother to the hospital as she had fallen down from stairs at home. Dr. Dipak at the hospital performed a surgery and advised removal of wire used during the surgery after a year.

The patient followed up as advised after a year and a surgery was planned to remove the wire. When the patient was in the operation theater, Dr. Dipak noticed a lump on patient’s upper abdomen and diagnosed it as gall bladder empyema. The doctor decided to postpone the surgery to remove the wire and instead performed cholecystectomy, along with a surgeon, to remove the gall bladder.

The patient’s son and other relatives were furious and sued doctor for performing the intervention without taking their consent.

The doctor in defense stated that the surgery was planned only to remove the wire from patient’s leg but when he noticed an unusual lump, a surgeon was immediately consulted who concurred that the patient had gall bladder empyema – gall bladder filled with pus – and was at the stage of getting ruptured any time. Hence, the decision to postpone the surgery to remove the wire was made and instead cholecystectomy was performed keeping in mind patient’s best interest.

Dr. Dipak further stated that an informed consent was taken and the patient’s son and relatives were clearly informed about risks and complications.

The Commission observed that the doctors did not present any expert opinion or medical literature to prove that the lump filled with pus could’ve burst during the planned surgery for removal of wire, and stated the following: “The consent obtained at the hospital was for the surgery of removal of wire and it cannot be accepted that the consent was obtained for the operation of gall bladder particularly when the doctor has stated that the so-called lump in the stomach was detected immediately before the scheduled operation, rather it appears to us that the doctor performed the operation carelessly. We consider the line of defence as adopted by the doctor is a cock-and-bull story”.

Both doctors, Dr. Dipak and the surgeon were held negligent for not taking an informed consent and ordered to compensate more than twelve lakh rupees.

Source: Order pronounced by State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal on 14th March, 2019