NCDRC Holds AIIMS Doctor Guilty of Medical Negligence for Patient Loss of Voice After Surgery

Medical Negligence doctor law insider

LI Network

Published on: 31 December 2022 at 13:37 IST

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission bench of Justices S.M. Kantikar and Binoy Kumar in a major Decision held an AIIMS doctor guilty of medical negligence as the patient loses voice after the surgery.

NCDRC said that “The operative procedure adopted by the doctor and hospital was an accepted reasonable standard of practice, but not having proper informed consent, amounts to negligence per se”.

Contents of the Plaint:

AIIMS Doctor advised Surgery for the ‘Anterior Mediastinum Tumor’.

NCDRC observed that the patient was a doctor himself, but patient was not informed about the postoperative complications of nerve injury during such surgery, which is likely to cause loss of voice and restricted diaphragm movements.

Moreover, the operative procedure adopted by the Opposite Parties was an accepted reasonable standard of practice, but not having proper informed consent, amounts to negligence per se.

AIIMS doctors performed surgery Median ‘Sternotomy’ and ‘Thymectomy’. After the operation, the Complainant was told by the doctor that he had to cut his left Phrenic Nerve as the same was passing through the Tthymaic mass and there was no other option left to remove the thymas mass. The consequence of cutting off the left Phrenic Nerve was that his left diaphragm was raised and exists like this till date.

As soon as the Complainant regained consciousness he realized that he was not able to speak and informed the doctor. He took it very lightly. The Complainant went to the ENT Department (AIIMS) to get himself examined for the problem of voice suffered by him.

After examination, the ENT Department of AIIMS declared left cord palsy (post-operative) and suggested the Complainant for speech Therapy.

Accused Doctor based on the HPE report advised radiotherapy as a proper treatment, but Complainant did not show any improvement in his voice or movement of the left vocal cord.

Being aggrieved the Complainant filed complaint before the State Commission and claimed an amount of Rs. 65,25,000/- as compensation from the OPs.

NCDRC Decided that the hospital and doctor can be held liable for Medical negligence or not?

The Commission noted that due to achieving complete tumour excision the ipsilateral phrenic nerve was chosen by the OP-2. It is an accepted mode of treatment. It was not proper by leaving part of the tumour, as it would have endangered the patient’s life in future.

Thus, it was due diligence that the doctor (OP-2) exercised the care during the entire procedure.

The bench noted that the complainant (patient) was totally asymptomatic and healthy. The tumour was accidentally detected on X-ray only and the nature, size of the same was confirmed by FNAC & C.T. Scan.

However, the Complainant being a doctor (physician) in his affidavit stated that pre-operatively OP-2 did not discuss the possibility of cutting/injury to the phrenic nerve. The OP-2 on his own cut the phrenic nerve causing complete left diaphragm paralysis for the rest of his life. The post-operative notes or in the discharge summary did not mention about cutting of left RLN.

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