Hyderabad: 2 years after A. Mallikamba under went a surgery for a cystic lesion of the pancreas, she had to be operated on a second time. Only this time, the surgery was conducted to remove the gauze swab which the team of surgeons forgot in her abdomen during the initial operation. The gauze swab led to the formation of pus and the development of tumor in her abdomen. This the Hyderabad District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-3 amounted to what is termed as medical negligence, costing the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences director and Dr R.A. Sastry, a sum of Rs 5.63 lakhs to be paid as compensation and litigation costs to the patient. Dr R.A. Sastry is the head of the department of surgical gastrology, NIMS.
Ms Mallikamba, a resident of Mogilicherla in Geesukonda mandal of Warangal district had filed a complaint in the consumer forum after suffering from severe abdominal pain and discomfort for which she had sought consultation from Sakhamuri Narayana Memorial Nursing Home in Warangal. Investigations had revealed a tumour-like object in her abdomen which needed surgical intervention. During the operation however, it was found that a gauze swab from her previous surgery was the culprit behind her symptoms, causing her a considerable amount of pain and hardship that she had to bear for a period of 2 years.
NIMS in response to the allegations, told the DECCAN CHRONICLE that out of the 25,000 major operations they have conducted so far, this is the first complaint they have received of this nature in the last 27 years. All the disposables and non-disposables, including surgical mops and instruments that are used during the course of the operation are accounted for and recorded, denying altogether any negligence on the part of the treating doctors at any stage of the surgery.
The term negligence is defined as the absence or lack of care that a reasonable person should have taken in the circumstances of the case. Failure of an operation and side effects are not negligence.The liability of a doctor arises not when the patient has suffered any injury, but when the injury has resulted due to the conduct of the doctor, which has fallen below that of reasonable care. In the words of the Supreme Court, the duty owed by a doctor towards his patient is to “bring to his task a reasonable degree of skill and knowledge” and to exercise “a reasonable degree of care”.