The price of diligence is lot less than the cost of regret

  • Posted on: December 27, 2016

The noble profession of medicine and treatment has several challenges. Perhaps many of them lie within the faculty itself. Like in this case, we have evidence of good intent but bad judgement, which then leads to a defensive stance and statements.

Dr. Chandraiah got a regular case of a patient who had accidently fallen and required Hemiarthroplasty for the right hip. The doctor performed the surgery but it didn’t relieve the patient – Lalithamma. She developed excruciating pain post-surgery which didn’t subsite despite medicines prescribed by the doctor. The patient and her husband both were in immense pain and neither could bear it anymore – it was a fortnight since it began.

Lalithamma was taken to KIMS Hospital where it was diagnosed that the Austin Moore Prosthesis (AMP) had loosened. A corrective surgery was performed at KIMS, which cured the patient of her pain. While she shared her thanks with KIMS for the treatment, it seemed she wanted to share some of her pain with Dr. Chandraiah. She approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, demanding answers and compensation from the doctor.

She alleged that the doctor was indifferent to her shooting pain in the right leg since he didn’t even bother to diagnose the cause of the pain. He simply continued with same medicine and treatment for a fortnight. She further alleged that the doctor did not prepare the case papers until the present complaint was filed.

Lalithamma further shocked the Commission by stating that the doctor did not take an informed consent either from her or her husband before the surgery. Dr. Chandraiah gave an option of four surgeries to choose from to her husband, and in turn he chose A M Prosthesis. None of these details were present in the case papers. What’s more, alleged Lalithamma, is that the treating doctor at KIMS opined that the surgery performed by Dr. Chandraiah was a complete failure!

Do you have the proof of it, countered the doctor, while stating that the surgery was performed along with three other experienced surgeons, and there was no negligence either during the surgery or while providing post-surgery care. The doctor also stated that KIMS’s discharge summary simply stated loosening of AMP without disclosing the reason for it. How can he be held negligent? Moreover, the patient and her husband had mentioned ‘accepted for surgery’ hence, there is no question of not taking informed consent! Evidently apprehensive, Dr. Chandraiah concluded by claiming that the patient’s husband, a lawyer by profession, was trying to arm-twist him as he didn’t want to pay for an elbow surgery performed by him seven years ago!

Starting with the ‘let’s stick to the facts on records’, the Commission observed that Dr. Chandraiah neither produced the consent form nor denied the patient’s claim that they were not well-informed about the surgery or the involved risks. The Commission firmly stated that the patient and her husband’s ‘accepted for surgery’ statement did not absolve the doctor from his responsibility of obtaining proper and informed consent before the surgery. What was surprising, noted the Commission, that the doctor could not relieve the patient from the excruciating pain yet kept her in the hospital for a fortnight! He should’ve referred her to a higher center much earlier, concluded the Commission and ordered Dr. Chandraiah to pay compensation.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 8th December, 2016