Charges of medical negligence against doctor whose patient died due to infection after appendix operation, dismissed

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): “The doctor/patient relationship is at a crossroads. Some patients want the doctor calling all the shots, deciding the best treatment path to follow. Patients miss the trust and warmth found in the personal bond with a caring, competent physician. Boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship is an important concept to help health professionals navigate the complex and sometimes difficult experience between patient and doctor where intimacy and power must be balanced in the direction of benefiting patients,” observed NCDRC while dismissing the charges of medical negligence leveled against a doctor. The Commission was hearing an appeal filed by a person, whose father had appendicitis, and after the operation was performed by the Respondent Doctor, the patient developed fecal fistula, subsequently suffered septicemia and thereafter passed away. Alleging medical negligence, appellant approached State Consumer Commission and argued that his father had appendicitis, which could be treated by medicines. Also the operation was not performed properly by the Respondent Doctor, due to which the patient developed fecal fistula and died. State Commission dismissed the complaint and feeling aggrieved, appellant filed appeal before NCDRC. After perusing the medical history of the patient and hearing both the parties, NCDRC observed that patient was presented with acute appendicitis and high fever. The patient’s blood sugar at the time of admission was also very high. As the patient was diabetic; it was the additional cause for poor healing of wound. The Commission also went through medical literature and several books on surgery and noted that when the appendix is perforated or gangrenous with peri-appendicitis, the frequency of septic complications reaches as much as 30% which includes wound infection, intra-abdominal abscess, fistula formation, and localized or diffused peritonitis. “The OP (Doctor) took utmost care and operated upon him as an emergency. The fecal fistula developed due to patient’s health condition. The patient was highly diabetic with high blood urea and creatinine levels. Further, OP (Doctor) took proper care of the fistula by providing regular dressing and antibiotics to the patient. The death occurred due to multiple factors. We do not find any negligence either during the appendicectomy surgery or during treatment of fecal fistula. Therefore the appeal is hereby dismissed,” noted the Commission while dismissing the appeal. Bibekananda Panigrahi v. Prime Hospitals Ltd., 2015 SCC OnLine NCDRC 1404, decided on 3-8-2015

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