Autoimmune disorder triggers myelitis, and allegations of negligence

  • Posted on: April 27, 2021

The patient experienced pain in the abdomen. He visited hospital where the doctor conducted investigations which reported a 12.4 mm stone in left pelvic ureteric junction. A surgery was performed to remove the stone.

After about an hour or so, the patient experienced numbness in his lower limbs. A neuro physician was summoned and provided treatment, but to no avail. The patient was taken to two MRI centers. Both reported mild T2W eccentric hyper intensity in dorsal cord parenchyma at D9 level in left paramedian region posteriorly likely to be demyelination acute partial transverse myelitis (ATM).

The doctors suggested symptomatic treatment and physiotherapy for six weeks, but the patient’s attendants refused. He was referred to another hospital where same treatment was provided. Thankfully, the patient recovered eventually.

Having regained his verve and vitality, the patient sued the hospital and doctors. It was alleged that a simple surgery to remove stone turned out to be a nightmarish experience. How did the surgery lead to numbness in legs and ATM, questioned the patient.

The Commission, citing medical literature, replied to patient’s inaccurate allegation: “Myelitis is inflammation of the spinal cord which can disrupt the normal responses from brain to the rest of the body, and from rest of the body to brain. Inflammation in the spinal cord can cause the myelin and axon to be damaged resulting in symptoms such as paralysis and sensory loss. Here in the case in hand there is no allegation that doctors operated or touched the spinal cord. In absence of it also, it cannot be said that the operation conducted for removing stone is responsible for the alleged infection in the spinal cord because spinal cord is separate part of the body than the operated part”.

“According to established literature, it was probably due to recovery from an acute febrile infection in the subsequent days or weeks. The presumption is that myelitis represents an autoimmune disorder triggered by infection and is not due to direct infection of the spinal cord”.

The patient’s allegations were dismissed and so was the case against doctor and hospital

Source: Order pronounced by Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 5th March, 2021.