Death due to rapidly growing tumour quickly takes an ugly turn for the doctor

  • Posted on: August 21, 2019

This story is an unfortunate case of a patient who died because of a rapidly growing tumour in pancreas. What’s also unfortunate is that the treating doctor was sued by the patient’s family for not being able to detect the tumour ‘in time’. However, the court, relying on medical literature and medical records, ruled in favour of the doctor.

Suffering from gastritis and pain in the abdomen, Paramjit visited Dr. Chhina who referred her to a diagnostic centre for an ultrasound which reported multiple stones in gall bladder.

Dr. Chhina performed cholecystectomy, removed the patient’s gall bladder and discharged her in two days. The pain in Paramjit’s abdomen, instead of subsiding, intensified. She approached a diagnostic centre for an ultrasound which reported a tumour measuring 3.7 x 3.1 cms.

Shocked at the scary revelation of cancer in pancreas, Paramjit got admitted to another hospital where she underwent chemotherapy for few days. Another ultrasound was performed at yet another diagnostic centre which reported the tumour measuring 4.9 x 4.6 x 4.1 cms. She remained hospitalized for about three months, but sadly cancer claimed her life.

The patient’s family was so distraught that they sued Dr. Chhina for not diagnosing the tumour. It was alleged that if the tumour was diagnosed on time, chemotherapy could have started earlier which may have saved the patient.

The Commission could easily differentiate the allegations from facts of the case. It was observed that the first ultrasound reported tumour of 3.7 x 3.1 cms size and the second ultrasound, which was done just ten days later, reported tumour of 4.9 x 4.6 x 4.1 cms. in size. It was a clear case of a rapidly growing tumour. Making this observation, the Commission referred to medical literature and stated the following: “Carcinoma of the pancreas, in the head and body can be identified in most patients when they present clinically but tumours less than 2 cms. in diameter are not usually detected. The patient also didn’t produce any expert opinion to further the claims. The doctor removed patient’s gallbladder based on the ultrasound report. Removal of gallbladder is the standard procedure when multiple stones are found in gallbladder. In our opinion patient died due to natural rapid progression of disease and its known complications.”

The doctor was not held negligent and perhaps the patient’s family got their much deserved closure as well.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 15th April, 2019.