Known post-op complications not negligence, if…

  • Posted on: August 03, 2023

Patient suffering from known post-operative complications is not negligence, as long as the patient / attendants are apprised about this fact, and an informed consent is taken. This well-known legal dictum is yet again established in the following case.

The doctor performed endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure to remove stones from patient’s common bile duct (CBD). Unfortunately, the patient suffered post-operative complications and died about a month later.

His family sued the doctor, alleging that the doctor negligently performed the procedure and he was not competent to perform ERCP.

The National Consumer Commission perused medical records and ruled in favour of the doctor, making following observations:

“The medical record reveals that ERCP was performed after taking informed consent. The patient already had undergone cholecystectomy ten years back. The patient was admitted with complains of abdominal pain, and clinically CBD stone was suspected. It is evident from the bed head ticket that injection Octride was given, and its dose was increased to reduce secretions. This should not be interpreted as wrong ERCP performed for pancreas instead of CBD stone. Moreover, post-ERCP, pancreatitis is a known complication, it was not negligence”.

“I further note that during the post-ERCP period, the patient was carefully monitored and managed with the help of a specialist and proper medication. Treatment for pancreatitis was started immediately after ERCP. As the patient was suffering from critical illness, therefore, he was treated in ICU with various life support systems, broad spectrum antibiotics, blood transfusion. In my view, the treating doctors had treated the patient as per reasonable standards, but unfortunately the patient suffered septicaemia and expired”.

The Commission also observed that the doctor was well-qualified to perform ERCP procedure. The case and complaint against him were dismissed.

Source : Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 17th May, 2023.