What was the hurry, doc?

  • Posted on: November 10, 2022

The patient was suffering from acute acalculous cholecystitis. She was admitted at the hospital where the doctors initially adopted a conservative line of treatment.

The surgeon decided to perform an open surgery to remove the gall bladder as he thought it was necessary to manage complications. To everyone’s shock, the patient died during the operation that lasted nearly four hours.

Post-mortem (PM) reported septicaemia shock as cause of death.

Patient’s family sued the surgeon and other doctors, and claimed that they were negligent in performing the surgery.

The surgeon stated in defence that the patient was already in septicaemia and hence, removal of gall bladder was absolutely necessary to avoid fatal complications.

Having perused medical records and treatment charts, the Commission disagreed with doctor’s defence and observed the following:

“We do not agree with this contention because primarily the doctors failed to rule out other causes of septicaemia by proper investigations like blood culture, liver function test, etc.”

“It is evident from the report of USG, there was no stone in the gall bladder and it was not a life-saving or emergency surgery. It appears that the surgeon took hasty decision to operate the patient. Even we note that the doctors including anaesthetist gave fitness for surgery”.

“The operative notes also revealed that the doctor completed dissection successfully and the gallbladder was removed. There was some extra bleeding from the liver bed. At the time of shifting the patient to her bed, she felt breathing trouble, it was managed by the anaesthetist. It is pertinent to note that the urinary catheter showed blood-stained urine, but the doctors failed to rule out the causes of same”.

“It is pertinent to note that prior to operation the patient’s haemoglobin and blood pressure were not normal, therefore, in case of acute acalculous cholecystitis instead of surgery, initial step in treating should be conservative with antibiotics and source control. In the instant case, doctors hurriedly took the decision. The operation was not an emergency or lifesaving; therefore they should have ruled out other causes of acute acalculous cholecystitis and waited till proper diagnosis”.

The doctors, including the surgeon, were held negligent and ordered to pay twenty-two lakh rupees in compensation.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 7 th July, 2022.