Doc plays hide & seek, court catches him red-handed

  • Posted on: September 21, 2017

Is it not best to agree that a mistake had been made? No healthcare practitioner would make one deliberately. But when a doctor tries to cover it up with lies, it blots the entire healthcare community.

Vijender was suffering from pain in the testis and consulted Dr. Verma who diagnosed him to be a case of Hydrocele. The doctor performed a corrective surgery and discharged the patient from hospital within a week after the surgery. Unfortunately, soon after the discharge, the patient was diagnosed with Berger’s disease and fingers of his left hand developed gangrene and they had to be amputated.

He was in a state of shock. He had lost his fingers after an uneventful surgery! Not wanting to let the doctor off the hook, the patient approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi and presented his case. It was alleged that he suffered continuous and severe pain and swelling after the surgery. It was further alleged that the doctor injected painkillers and glucose through the needle in the artery instead of vein in the left hand. The doctor did not even care to explain the reason behind pain and swelling, he added. Vijender stated that he did not suffer from pain, swelling or gangrene prior to the surgery. The medical records would’ve reflected otherwise. Even the doctors at PGI who performed the amputation concurred that the swelling on his hand was due to injecting through artery, concluded Vijender.

Dr. Verma had an extremely defensive stance, which he believed could get the ruling in his favor. To begin with, the doctor denied administering any pain killers at all! Taking the defense forward, it was stated that Cannula was placed in the left hand at the Cubital Fossa and it is such an instrument that there is no possibility of injecting or piercing in a wrong vein. Moreover intra muscular injections were administered through the hip and shoulders to relive the swelling. It was further stated that the patient was diagnosed with Berger’s Disease which is a rare disease causing skin and tissue to die, which was the actual cause of gangrene. This fact had been concealed by the patient. Moreover, the patient has failed to prove that painkillers and glucose were injected through the needle in the artery instead of vein in the left hand, added Dr. Verma. He further stated that the patient’s condition was good and he was advised to come for a review after 3-4 days, but the he did not turn up for the check up and therefore the question of observing any occurrence of gangrene could not be ascertained. Finally, and defiantly, the doctor concluded that he had successfully performed the Hydrocele operation as per standard of protocol and denied any knowledge of the subsequent treatment at PGI.

The Commission had ample of evidence to refute the doctor’s defense. At the outset, it was observed from the medical records that injection Voveran was advised and administered but the same was deleted in the prescription. Hence the doctor’s contention that painkillers were not given was a lie! It was further observed that the onset of pain and swelling was not recorded by the doctor. Even the advice of a follow-up visit after the operation was not recorded. Another lie was caught! Citing PGI’s medical records, the Commission ruled that the swelling and gangrene was on account of post arterial injection. The Commission also observed that the doctor failed to explain how swelling, pain and gangrene developed immediately after the surgery.

This concluding observation was the final proverbial nail in the coffin for Dr. Verma. He was held negligent and was ordered to compensate the patient.

Source: Order pronouncedby National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 21st September, 2017