Consumer Court upholds Medical Council observation, absolves Fortis Hospital, 2 Cardiac Surgeons of Negligence
Bengaluru: Opining that the patient wouldn't survive two years after the surgery if there would have been any negligence during the same, the Bengaluru District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has recently exonerated two cardiac surgeons associated with Fortis Hospital.
Observing that the complainant's mother had died two years after the surgery, the Forum noted, "When this is taken into consideration if at all as per the allegations made that the operation done by Op.2 (Senior surgeon) and 3 (Surgeon) in OP.1 hospital (Fortis) was not proper, carelessly done and negligently treated after the complications, she would not have survived for such a long time. Hence it is to be inferred here that there is no negligence on the part of OP.2 and 3 in performing the surgery and treating the patient post-operative for the medical complication she developed."
Dismissing the complaint, the President of the Forum Mr. H. R. Srinivas and Mrs. Sharavathi S. M. (member) upheld the observation made by the Karnataka Medical Council in the case and absolved the doctors of medical negligence charges.
The case goes back to 2011 when the Complainant's mother was suffering from heart-related problems. She consulted the senior surgeon at the Fortis Hospital, Bangalore and the doctor suggested that she undergo Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG). Consequently, the patient was admitted to the Fortis Hospital and on March 25, 2011, she was operated on.
However, the Complainant has alleged that even though his mother consented to the operation knowing that the senior surgeon would be conducting the operation, the operation was in fact performed by a cardiologist surgeon working under him.
Further claiming lack of post-operative care at the Hospital, the Complainant informed the District Commission that the surgical area did not heal and there was the formation of puss around it. The patient was unable to sit after the surgery and developed breathlessness and was unable to walk and the condition deteriorated. On March 30, the complainant noticed blood coming out of the operated area and there was an excess formation of puss and gap in the surgical area (sternal wound). The patient was suffering from immense pain due to excess discharge.
The patient was discharged on March 31 after taking care of the dressing. The Complainant alleged that at the time of discharge also the blood in the surgical area had not subsided. As the health of the patient was deteriorating, the patient was later taken to another hospital in Belgaum, where although the pus was removed from the surgical area, the other issues faced by the patient couldn't be cured and ultimately she died on 08.03.2013.
The Complainant had alleged that the operation at the Fortis Hospital was a failure as before the operation the functioning of the heart was at 55% which got reduced to 37% when the patient was re-checked on 12.07.2012.
Alleging that the operation was unsuccessful, that too conducted by another doctor, and there was a lack of adequate post-operative care, the Complainant approached the District Forum in Bengaluru.
The treating doctors and the hospital denied all the charges labelled against them. They pointed out that the complaint was filed two years after the surgery. "It is unbelievable and to far-fetched to allege that the death is due to the surgery conducted two years ago," they contended. The senior surgeon also had sworn in the affidavit filed before the Commission that he himself had conducted the operation along with his team.
Besides, the treating surgeons also submitted before the Forum that the patient was a known case of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, which resulted in post-operative complications like bed sore and infection. Further, they pointed out that the patient was unable to move as she had undergone a major CABG operation where a mechanical device intra biotic balloon pump was attached. Hence with the already existing medical conditions of the patient, coupled with immobility the patient developed post operative complications like bed sore and infection which would occur to the patient in some percentage of patients.
They also alleged that the patient didn't continue the follow-up check-up at the Fortis Hospital and opted for treatment somewhere else. Claiming that if she had continued the treatment in the hospital her complications would eventually go away, the treating doctors denied any liability of the patient on them as she didn't continue treatment under them.
Referring to the lower functioning of the heart after the operation, the doctors argued that the patient had already suffered heart attack before coming for surgery and had a weaker left ventricle as evidenced by regional valve motion, abnormal LV erection fraction in the preoperative ECO Cardiography. This dysfunction is caused by an earlier heart attack and is permanently irreversible. It needs to be managed by tight lifestyle controls careful follow up medications, contended the doctors.
After listening to all the facts related to the case, the District Forum also noted that the matter was referred on the application made by the party to Karnataka Medical Council for inquiry. The Council upon going through the documents produced before it and also the literature and research paper in respect of the said treatment and post-operative treatment given, had come to the conclusion that there is no negligence on the part of the Doctor who performed the operation and in managing the complainant's mother during operation and after operation.
The Council had observed, "After going through complaint, Expert opinion and review of the citations, it has opined that there is no medical negligence in the management of the complainant's mother *** during her treatment at Fortis hospital."
Further noting that the patient had died two years after the surgery, the Forum noted:
"When this is taken into consideration if at all as per the allegations made that the operation done by Op.2 (Senior surgeon) and 3(Surgeon) in OP.1 hospital (Fortis) was not proper, carelessly done and negligently treated after the complications, she would not have survived for such a long time. Hence it is to be inferred here that there is no negligence on the part of OP.2 and 3 in performing the surgery and treating the patient post-operative for the medical complication she developed."
Thus, the District Consumer Court opined,
"The death of mother of the complainant is not directly or indirectly related to the surgery and treatment given by OP-2 and 3."
Besides, agreeing with the treating doctors that the complaint should have been filed within two years, the Commission observed that on that ground also the complaint filed was beyond the time prescribed under Section 24-A of Consumer Protection Act 1986.
Taking all these facts into consideration, the District Forum dismissed the complaint and denied granting any relief to the complainant.
To read the order, click on the link below.