Treating an accident victim by non-specialists – Court surprised

  • Posted on: July 15, 2021

Patients with serious conditions must be treated by relevant specialists. Doctors treating such patients without expertise in the applicable specialty is against the law.

The patient met with a road accident and was taken to hospital. The attending doctors performed several tests and diagnosed bilateral lung contusion, mild liver laceration and ABG – respiratory acidosis. For reasons best known to the hospital and treating doctors, the patient was kept in ICU but the first procedure – Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) for fracture in left arm – was done almost after one week.

The patient developed hypotension and cardiac arrest. Despite resuscitative measures, he died. The cause of death was septic shock, acute pancreatitis and polytrauma.

The shocked family sued the hospital and alleged negligence on part of its doctors.

The doctors presented several facts in defence, but the Commission had more pressing observations and questions:

“We find that patient’s vitals were more or less good. The treating doctor visited patient day after day and waited for six days to perform ORIF”.

“During the course of treatment, two CT Scans done for whole abdomen showed all organs were normal. But surprisingly treating doctor noted in BHT that patient was suffering from acute pancreatitis which is opposed to the report. Be that as it may, it is also surprising that the patient was not referred to any physician or gastroenterologist for treating pancreatitis. Moreover, the treating doctors noted that condition of patient’s lung was poor but surprisingly no pulmonologist was called or referred for examination”.

“After ORIF, patient’s condition deteriorated and he was put in ICU, CT scan revealed that kidney was normal. But we find that the patient was planned for dialysis. Surprising enough the patient was not referred to any nephrologist for such plan. It appears from BHT that tracheostomy was done but surprisingly enough no ENT specialist was consulted at the time of such tracheostomy”.

“We find that one of the treating doctors is a junior consultant of critical care. The other treating doctor is an orthopaedic surgeon. He is not a doctor of medicine. These doctors treated the patient even when his condition was critical”.

The hospital and doctors were held negligent for these serious lapses.

Source: Order pronounced by West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 20th January, 2021.