Bad decision doesn’t make a good case

  • Posted on: October 18, 2016

No parents should see their young ones dying, nothing could be worse than that for them. It is unfair, however, to blame the doctor or the hospital for a bad decision taken by them during the course of treatment.

Vishnu, a young man of 23, was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and was operated by Dr. Premkumar. Two days after the surgery, a USG was performed which revealed fluids in peritoneal cavity and hence had to be shifted to Malabar Hospital for emergency laparotomy. Vishnu’s parent’s however, decided against the laparotomy at Malabar Hospital and instead shifted him to Jubilee Hospital where a laparotomy was performed. But it was too late for Vishnu; he died the same day.

It was a rude shock to the parents. So rude that it made them approach the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission blaming Dr. Premkumar for their son’s death. It was alleged that the doctor did nothing when the patient’s urine was blocked. Instead, he asked them to take their son to Malabar Hospital for laparotomy and when Vishnu was taken there, they expressed their helplessness in treating him and further advised to approach Jubilee Mission Hospital. A doctor attached to Jubilee Mission Hospital performed laparotomy and subsequently informed them that their son’s condition had worsened due to negligence on part of Dr. Premkumar, claimed the parents.

These are serious and baseless allegations, vehemently argued Dr. Premkumar. Presenting medical records, he stated that the patient had indeed complained difficult in passing urine and hence he was put on permanent catheterisation. And the next day when he complained of pain in upper abdomen, he was subjected to peritoneal aspiration and a USG was also performed that revealed fluid in peritoneal cavity possibly due to gastric perforation. This was the reason why he was shifted to Malabar Hospital for an emergency laparotomy and just before the surgery, the parents sought discharge against medical advice and took Vishnu to jubilee Mission Hospital, clarified the doctor. He added that appendectomy was performed by incising the lower abdomen which does not cause any injury to the abdomen which is higher.

Patient’s acute ulceration could most probably due to surgical stress induced by drugs given to tackle the primary condition or a pre–existing ulcer which might have been masked by the appendicular pain. And how exactly does that make it my fault, questioned the doctor.

The Commission had the answers, and they shattered all the allegations made by the parents. It was observed that the parents were wrong on many counts – their claim that the patient was not cared for when he had difficulty was passing urine was not true as the medical records proved that the catheter was placed and urine was drained several times during his stay at the hospital.

Secondly, the parents’ claim that the doctor negligently performed the surgery was also incorrect. While the doctor from Jubilee Hospital initially suspected stump leak caused by appendectomy, after the surgery however, it was discovered that the leakage was due to gastric perforation. And that subsequently caused renal failure, sepsis and cardiorespiratory arrest. Most importantly, the Commission observed that Vishnu could have been saved if laparotomy was performed on time at Malabar Hospital. But the parents instead chose to take him to Jubilee Medical Mission Hospital which delayed the matter and caused his death.

Dr. Premkumar was found not guilty and the parents perhaps understood the reason why.

Source: Order pronounced by Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 19th July, 2016.