Surgeon did not take informed consent, or notice post-operative complications – So he had to pay compensation

  • Posted on: October 13, 2022

The patient was operated for removing a lump in his left thigh. During the procedure, sciatic nerve was also removed by the surgeon which resulted in post-operative complications. The patient lost sensation in the left leg.

The excised lump was sent for histopathology examination (HPE) which reported possibility of liposarcoma. The patient underwent six sessions of chemotherapy but to no avail.

Fed up with his prolonged suffering, the patient visited another hospital where the excised lump was re-examined. To everyone’s surprise, it tested non-malignant. He underwent a procedure at this hospital to repair the sciatic nerve.

The patient was furious, obviously.

He sued the hospital and surgeon. It was alleged that the surgeon did not inform the patient or his attendants about the procedure. He did not even disclose that sciatic nerve was removed.

It was further alleged that unnecessary chemotherapy sessions took a toll on his body and mind. ‘The surgeon and hospital must pay for their negligence’ demanded the irate patient.

The surgeon stated in defence that the patient did not come for follow-up, and the HPE report of second hospital clearly mentioned ‘however atypical lipomatous tumor cannot be excluded’

The Commission did not comment on the findings of HPE reports, but observed that the surgeon was negligent. Commission’s observations are reproduced below:

“The consent obtained from patient is pre-printed consent. Contents of these consents are that I am willing to get this operation done under relevant anaesthesia and in high-risk consent, the consent of wife is obtained in which there is information about the possibility of life-threatening complication. Further, in operation notes it is written wide local excision with excision of mass en-block with 2 cm. normal margin with involved vessels and nerves done. The same does not mention about excision of 6 cm. sciatic nerve. The consent obtained does not mention the likely complications of this operation. In fact, according to documents the sciatic nerve injury was not detected by treating doctor and was only detected after one month by another doctor who advised repair of sciatic nerve”.

“In our view the operating surgeon should have obtained informed consent and also should have noticed the injury to sciatic nerve and accordingly necessary information should have been given to the patient and his relatives. The operating surgeon failed to note this and hence the Commission observes that there was deficiency in service provided by him and the hospital in which surgery was performed”.

Both were ordered to pay five lakh rupees to the patient.

Source: Order pronounced by Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 29th March, 2022.