Patient’s lack of personal hygiene lands the doctor in trouble!

  • Posted on: July 30, 2016

Suja was on cloud nine. She had delivered a baby girl and was elated at the arrival of her princess. However, her joy was short-lived as she contracted a wound infection few days after the caesarean operation.

After taking treatment for the infection for over a month, Suja did not waste time in approaching Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, making allegation of negligence on Dr. Sunitha who had performed the caesarean operation.

She alleged that the doctor simply dressed the infected wound and did not provide any further treatment. Hence, she had no other choice but to approach the Government Hospital, where pus and thread were discovered at the operated site. The blood culture reported infection, which proved that Dr. Sunitha had negligently performed the operation, accused Suja.

Baffled. That was Dr. Sunitha’s first reaction to the accusations before she presented her defence. She specified that there could be a number of reasons for the infection; however, it was patient’s lack of personal hygiene and unwillingness to take advised bed rest that caused the infection. Moreover, the pus was drained before dressing the wound and it was later discovered that staphylococcus aureus – an organism commonly found on human skin – caused the infection, concluded the doctor.

The Commission agreed with the doctor. Discovery of staphylococcus aureus indicated lack of personal hygiene, plus there was no evidence to indicate that wound infection was caused during the operation. Moreover, the wound could’ve been an allergic reaction to the chromium catgut used for suturing, but that complication can occur after any surgery, specified the Commission.

“Allergic reaction is beyond the comprehension of even a most competent expert. Furthermore, a specific organism was found infecting the wound. So there is no basis for the conclusion that allergic reaction caused the formation of pus.  An operation by itself cannot be the basis of awarding compensation for pain and stress following surgery”, concluded the Commission and ruled in favour of Dr. Sunitha.

Source: Order pronounced by Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 13th May, 2016.