Preventive care a must for vulnerable patients with history of ailments

  • Posted on: November 24, 2017

It is a practicing specialist’s bounden duty to verify patient’s medical history and existing conditions or ailments before performing procedures. There are times, however, when the practitioner fails to do so. The courts don’t fail to observe this negligence.

Ramen had approached Dr. Sinha of Disha Eye Hospital & Research Center with complain of clotted blood in the right eye. The doctor cleared the clot, prescribed eye drops and advised to follow up. Ramen did as told. During the second follow up visit, Dr. Sinha diagnosed Vitreous Hemorrhage and referred him to a retina specialist, who further diagnosed Sclerosis with Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. A cataract surgery was performed and Acrysof foldable lens was implanted. Despite the surgery, Ramen’s condition worsened further. The retina specialist, during a follow up visit, diagnosed post-operative endophthalmitis with secondary glaucoma. Another surgery was performed to alleviate Ramen of his worsening condition. But that did not happen. The pain in the right eye increased further and that prompted the patient to visit an eye institute in Hyderabad where he was diagnosed non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy in left eye! The patient was also informed of a poor visual prognosis.

Ramen could perhaps see why the condition of his eyes had worsened. He approached the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal with an objective to make the doctor see the mistakes he committed. At the outset, it was alleged that the doctors did not record the prognosis and progress of the surgery and that itself amounts to negligence. It was further alleged that Dr. Sinha diagnosed endophthalmitis after the surgery and not before, which showed that he did not take preventive care before performing the surgery. What’s more is that the doctors performed two surgeries one after the other without considering the history of diabetes and blood pressure, added the patient. Lastly, Ramen also alleged that the doctors did not take proper post-operative care to manage the severe pain in the right eye. Could they not see that I suffered immensely and lost vision in the right eye?

The doctors had trained their vision elsewhere – to support the procedures and treatment they gave to the patient. It was stated that while the patient claimed that he lost the vision, the report from the eye institute at Hyderabad reveals that the vision became poor. The procedures were performed correctly in the right sequence – blood clot was removed first, Acrysof lens were implanted with vitrectomy at the second stage and re-vitrectomy was done at the final stage. It was further stated that the patient did not present an expert’s opinion to prove the claims he made. Furthermore, a diabetic patient is vulnerable to post-operative endophthalmitis, and when the same was diagnosed proper care was given through applying appropriate antibiotics. Shockingly, the doctors ended their defence by stating that success cannot be guaranteed and progress of the stages of a patient’s condition cannot be noted down!

While the list of allegations and defence was a long one, it did not take the Commission any more time than required to see through the case. It was observed that the doctors did not bother to record patient’s history of diabetes and hypertension. This was sheer negligence on their part. Even the diagnoses of endophthalmitis was not recorded before the surgeries and that clearly indicated that the same occurred because of failure on the doctors’ part. Moreover, even the post-operative care was not recorded as claimed by the doctors. There was no mention of applying any antibiotics. Post-operative care is even more vital for a diabetic patients as they are more vulnerable to infection, observed the Commission and held Dr. Sinha and the retina specialist guilty of negligence. They were ordered to collectively compensate the patient close to six lakh rupees.

Source: Order pronounced by State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal on 17th October, 2017.