Court delivers a fitting verdict for incompetent gynaecology

  • Posted on: December 19, 2016

Leela had agonizing back pain and was suffering from dysmenorrhea. She approached a gynaecologist Dr. Susan at Gautam Hospital who promptly performed an ultra-sonogram which reported bulky uterus with small fibroid and cyst in the right ovary. Hysterectomy was the only option available to Leela, and although unprepared for it she gave a consent with a heavy heart for it. Neither the doctor nor Leela were prepared for what was to come though.

During the surgery, Dr. Susan discovered that the bladder was severally adherent to the uterus and hence, she decided to perform abdominal hysterectomy. Unfortunately, during the surgery the patient’s urinary bladder got injured. Leela’s pain, agony and troubles had just started, or so it seemed. Vesico Vaginal Fistula and Necrosis was reported few days after the surgery due to which she further suffered from low urine output and urine leakage. That was that for Leela. Her patience had run out and she sought discharge from Gautam Hospital and got admitted to Lourds Hospital. The doctor at Lourds Hospital performed two corrective surgeries.

Leela had enough of time on her hands after those corrective surgeries to take some corrective measures of her own. She approached the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, blaming the gynaecologist and Gautam Hospital for sheer negligence during the surgery for which she suffered a lot. Alleging medical negligence and deficiency in service during the surgery, she claimed compensation and demanded justice.

Dr. Susan and Gautam Hospital on their part started lining up medical facts. The Commission was informed that bladder-uterus adhesions were quite common among the patients with history of pelvic infection. Moreover, the patient was reassured by a consulting urologist at the Hospital that the fistula tract between bladder and vagina could be corrected once the bladder tissue regenerates. But the patient did not cooperate and chose to be discharged instead. How can they be blamed for a known post-operative complication, they vehemently argued.

It seemed that the Commission had seen such type of posturing before. While it was accepted that a doctor can’t be held negligent when there is more than one accepted procedure, Dr. Susan was told in clear words that she failed to perform appropriate tests to visualise the condition of the tissues before the surgery. The Commission also stated that although the diagnosis of bulky uterus with small fibroids was made, other details weren’t captured. How bulky was it, whether the fibroids were inside or outside the uterus – these facts were not ascertained.

Noting that there was chance of adhesion only if the fibroids were outside the uterus, the Commission stated that the gynaecologist should have understood this when she discovered the adhesion while performing vaginal hysterectomy. Observing the reports from Lourds Hospital, the Commission noted that Dr. Susan was not competent to perform the surgery, as she had sutured the ruptured bladder while performing the hysterectomy itself, and that too was not done properly! To add to all the complications, the gynaecologist also failed to administer proper antibiotics, observed the Commission and told Dr. Susan that a gynaecologist is not expected to perform such corrective surgeries. And so, you should compensate.

The gynaecologist and the hospital were held negligent and Leela was awarded justice and a compensation of over a lac and half.

Source: Order pronounced by Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, on 24th October, 2016.