Hyderabad recently woke up to a shocking incident of medical negligence by the doctors at the government-run super-speciality Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS). The news of an artery forceps being left behind in a patient’s abdomen during a surgery sent waves of disbelief and mistrust among patients and their families. The 33-year-old patient, Maheshwari Chowdary had undergone a surgery for hernia three months ago at the hospital. But it was only when she complained of severe abdominal pain post surgery that an X-ray revealed the mishap. The frightening truth is that a patient on the operation table is totally at the mercy of the operating doctor and his team. We hear of many botched surgeries that go unreported. Doctors and surgeons from the city explain why such negligence happens despite having so many procedures and rules, putting the life of a patient at risk.
These are cases we wish had never actually happened: Dr Ravi Sankar Erukulapati, Consultant Endocrinologist.
Generally, all health care professionals take strict precautions and are very careful to avoid any mishaps that come under the term ‘Medical negligence’. Despite this, we do hear of cases that we wish never happened. A surgeon not following up a sick post-operative patient and not doing regular ward rounds can be called an act of omission. These are regulated by the Medical Council and can lead to various consequences, from being reprimanded as a first warning to erasure of the name of the involved from the Medical Register, depending on the gravity of the incident. Apart from this, such incidents have other social, economic and medico-legal consequences for all the parties involved.
It is Always better to cross check every detail and equipments post operation: Dr Kasu Prasad Reddy, Ophthalmologist
Inside an operation theatre there is a lot of stress on the doctor due to some complications. There may be sudden blood loss. What exactly happened at NIMS is difficult to say but the doctor won’t jeopardise his career and his patient’s life intentionally. All the medical equipments like scissors and forceps are radium marked and should be counted continuously to avoid such incidents. But when such things happen, the onus falls on the doctor more than his team. And the pressure and the stigma they go through might lead to depression as well. It is always better to cross check everything.
Give 100 per cent to every surgery: Dr A. V. Gurava Reddy, Orthopedic Surgeon
In the case of abdominal surgeries, a lot of complications are involved along with a lot of bleeding. There have been quite a few incidents reported earlier too, of medical equipment being left behind in a patient’s body. That does not make the gravity of the matter any less, the responsibility lies with the entire team involved the surgeon, anaesthetist and the nurses. There is a two-minute time out session before every operation where the team introduces each other and goes through the entire steps and checklists all the equipment required. If all this has happened even after this, it is unfortunate. Patients believe in us and as doctors, we need to give our 100 per cent to every surgery.
Accountability a must for everyone, without laxity: Dr Chandrashekar Ramineni, Orthopedic
NIMS is a very large institute and many cases might be lined up everyday. The doctor and his supporting team might be in a stressful environment, working non-stop. But that doesn’t give anyone the leeway to not give their best when it comes to a patient. There can’t be any laxity involved when dealing with life. Everyone should be accountable for their actions and be ready to face the consequences after such incidents.
Double check every equipment used: Dr Prateek Bhatnagar, Cardiac Surgeon
The nurses are more accountable in this sort of medical mishap rather than the doctor. But as the captain of the ship, the doctor will have to shoulder the responsibility. When the nurses give a nod after checking out every detail, it is then that the doctor does the closure. There is no harm in double checking every equipment used during the operation to avoid such incidents.
Our relationship runs on trust: Dr Manjula Anagani, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
These are human errors that may happen even after following strict rules in the operation theatre. The opened abdominal cavity is like a Pandora’s box with so many organs. To stop excessive bleeding, the doctor might have asked for an extra forceps, which was then forgotten due to a high stress situation. And this is the reason WHO has made it compulsory to do a post operative X-ray. These sort of incidents create a bad name as the whole doctor-patient relationship runs on trust.