Court’s observations silences the patient who kept crying foul

  • Posted on: August 17, 2023

The patient, a woman autorickshaw driver, suffered from thyroid issues. She consulted a doctor at the government hospital. The doctor, a practicing plastic surgeon with the hospital, diagnosed Hashimoto Thyroiditis and performed thyroidectomy procedure.

The patient sued the doctor, and claimed that he injured some nerves during the procedure which caused permanent damage. There was no improvement despite follow-up treatment, further claimed the patient.

Interestingly, the patient conceived and delivered a healthy boy in the intervening period.

The patient also alleged that she had to undergo tracheotomy procedure at another hospital, but her condition did not improve even after the said procedure. She claimed to have undergone fibre-optic laryngoscopy at yet another hospital which confirmed palsy of vocal cords.

The doctor ought to have consulted an ENT specialist in view of the diagnosis. His negligence cost me my ability to speak properly”, concluded the upset patient.

The doctor, obviously, refuted these allegations and stated that the surgery was uneventful and patient’s speech was normal at the time of discharge. She did not complain about any post-operative pain or discomfort.

The doctor pointed out that the patient followed-up with him only on two occasions at his clinic. He prescribed medicines for respiratory infection and general health. 

The Consumer Commission dismissed patient’s allegations and her complaint against the doctor as it made following observations:

“In my view general surgeons often perform thyroidectomy, and the doctor was a qualified plastic surgeon; he was not barred to perform thyroidectomy as per MCI guidelines”. 

“On merit, it is pertinent to note that during pregnancy for antenatal checkup, the patient attended a maternity hospital, but nowhere in the record loss of voice or breathing difficulty was mentioned. Therefore, her allegations are not sustainable”.

“From medical records, it is evident that the symptoms of laryngeal palsy was noted after a year and half of surgery. During the intervening period patient never consulted the doctor.  Even the expert opined that vocal card palsy manifests immediately after surgery. Thus, thyroidectomy performed by doctor was not the proximate cause of vocal cord palsy”.

Source : Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 30th May, 2023.