CHENNAI: Instruments break during operations and additional surgery to remove fragments of broken instrument is not justified, a consumer forum here quoted medical texts as saying, while absolving a doctor of medical negligence for inadvertently leaving in the elbow of a patient a small piece of a drill that broke off during an orthopaedic procedure.
Aminjikarai resident V Vasudevan told the district consumer disputes redressal forum, north Chennai, that he received treatment at Dr Rangarajan Memorial Hospital, Anna Nagar West, after an accident on April 21, 2009.
Dr Sudhakar Williams carried out a surgical process to insert steel pins in Vasudevan’s right elbow. Four days later, he received a report from the hospital’s doctors, saying he had recovered.
Around 30 months later, Vasudevan’s consulted another doctor, who wanted to see an X-ray of his right elbow. The X-ray showed a small part of the drill lodged in bone and Vasudevan underwent surgery in another hospital and doctors had it removed.
Vasudevan moved the forum claiming compensation for medical negligence because he had “continuous pain” after his discharge from Dr Rangarajan Memorial Hospital.
In his counter, Dr Williams said Vasudevan experienced pain because of injuries sustained in the accident. According to the hospital’s strict policy, doctors discharged Vasudevan only after ensuring he had recovered. They did not negligently leave part of an instrument in Vasudevan’s body and he did not consult him for pain after the procedure.
Medical literature said it was common for small pieces of drill to break and stick in the bone, the doctor’s counsel said. The piece did not cause any complications and the doctor did not deviate from medical norms.
A bench of the forum’s president K Jayabalan and member T Kalaiyarasi noted that Vasudevan did not claim negligence while in hospital, had not provided any evidence to prove that the piece of drill caused him any injury, or that medical negligence had caused him any pain.
Vasudevan failed to provide any medical literature to prove that he was a victim of medical negligence or deficiency in service, the bench said. The doctor and hospital had, however, cited medical texts highlighting the fact that medical instruments occasionally break “during operations... in every surgical discipline”.
Stating that the medical texts stated that chips of drill left behind are “well-tolerated by human body” and “additional surgical trauma to remove the fragment is unjustifiable”, the bench absolved the doctor of medical negligence.