Leak in patient’s allegations plugged by the court

  • Posted on: November 05, 2020

Injury during a surgery and known complications of surgery are not the same, legally speaking. While the former may or may not be due to negligence, the latter cannot be attributed to negligence, as this case demonstrates.

Peddi experienced severe abdominal pain on the right side. He approached a reputed hospital where some tests were performed. Peddi was diagnosed with acute calculus cholecystitis. A surgery was performed at the hospital and he was discharged after a few days.

Nothing was going well for Peddi. Pain in the abdomen retuned. He visited a gastroenterologist who diagnosed post-operative biliary leak – cystic duct stump. The doctor performed endoscopic sphincterotomy and inserted a stent to plug the leak. Finally Peddi was alleviated of the excruciating abdominal pain.

The hospital, however, was now at the receiving end of patient’s agony. Peddi sued the hospital and blamed it for the prolonged pain. There were many allegations levelled – idle stay in ICU, performing unnecessary tests, performing surgery in a hasty manner and post-surgery complications.

The Commission rejected all allegations. It was observed that the second hospital, where the patient underwent endoscopic sphincterotomy, performed ERCP which reported bile duct leak and not bile duct injury.

It was observed that bile duct leak is a known complication of the procedure. The Commission categorically stated that there is a clear distinction between bile duct leak and bile duct injury. The hospital cannot be held negligent on account of a known complication.

Peddi probably realised the difference between the two, as his case against the hospital was dismissed.

Source: Order pronounced by Telangana Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 31st January, 2020.