Possibility of post-anesthesia complications? Nothing wrong in declaring patient ‘unfit for surgery’ in such cases

  • Posted on: June 15, 2023

Surgeons are often confronted by dilemma of whether to perform surgery on critical patients or not. Which legally correct treatment protocol must be followed in such instances to ensure that optimum patient care is delivered without threatening his / her life.

Irrefutable Facts
A patient with history of Atlanto Axial Dislocation and paralysis of whole body below the neck developed kidney stones. He was unfit for surgery, therefore, the urologist performed extra shock wave lithotripsy, but to no avail.
The patient developed infection and had to be transferred to a higher centre where he died.  
His family sued the urologist and first hospital alleging that not performing surgery led to patient’s death.

Doctors’ Plea
The doctor presented patient’s medical history, pointing out to the fact that he was paralytic and his system was too weak to handle the effects of anesthesia. Performing an open surgery was counter-indicative.

Court’s Observations
The State Consumer Court carefully examined patient’s medical history and treatment records. Doctor’s defense was accepted as it was backed by an expert opinion also. 

Prevention Is Better Than Cure
While taking a decision on whether or not to perform surgery on critical patients, ensure that:
i. It is acceptable to medical science
ii. It is in the patient’s best interest
iii. Document the reasons for performing or not performing the surgery appropriately 

Source : Rajiv Sharma v/s The Director, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research & Ors.

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