Journalist Chitra Subramaniam takes Manipal Hospitals to court for alleged medical negligence

19 February, 2016

Opposite parties include Dr. Murlidhar Rao and an Indian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. 

Journalist Chitra Subramaniam has taken Manipal Hospitals, represented through its Chairman-Medical Advisory Board and Medical Director Dr H Sudarsahan Ballal, and others to court alleging gross medical negligence and willfully providing false and dangerously misleading information about medical implants.

The consumer complaint, filed in a Bangalore court, relates to an ankle surgery done in January 2014. According to the complaint, implants to correct a fracture did not meet medical standards. Subramaniam says her life was put at grave risk due to use of faulty implants, details of which she says were never given to her despite repeated pleas and several meetings with Swami Swaminathan, the Executive Chairman of Manipal Health Enterprises.

Subramaniam suffers from multiple myeloma, a life-threatening cancer of the bone marrow. Regular MRIs are part of her routine check-ups. According to the complaint, the faulty implants made these MRIs impossible and the implants had to be removed by a second surgery. 

According to Subramaniam, Manipal Hospitals and Dr. Murildhar Rao, the orthopaedic surgeon who operated on her at Manipal Northside Hospital in Malleswaram, repeatedly provided wrong and misleading information claiming it was given to them by the Indian arm of Synthes, the Switzerland-based subsidiary of the global conglomerate Johnson and Johnson.

A Manipal Hospitals spokesperson told dna India, "We have not got any legal notice or official communication from the court of law and hence we will not be able to comment until we study the case further." The spokesperson also added, "We had answered to all her queries earlier and have had multiple discussions with her. But post that she has taken it to the consumer court, so there is nothing that we can do until we get a legal notice or communication from the court."

Johnson &Johnson did not respond to an email query sent by dna to them on Thursday.

On June 14, 2012, Johnson & Johnson had announced the completion of the acquisition of Synthes, Inc for a total purchase price of $19.7 billion in cash and stock. Synthes was integrated with the DePuy franchise to establish the DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Synthes has faced several issues with the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) in the past. In March 2012 itself USFDA had issued regulatory warnings regarding complaints filed and inadequate production standards.

report by Fortune too had highlighted a malpractice by Synthes that had injected bone cement into the spine of a complainant's mother who had succumbed post the surgery.