A 62-year-old man suffering from cancer died during a live surgery performed at a medical seminar in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) that was attended by experts from several countries.
Amid a debate on the ethics of organising such events and allegations by the man’s family that doctors struggled for several hours with the surgery, officials at AIIMS said the man had succumbed to his disease and not because of the medical procedure.
Doctors at AIIMS chose Shobha Ram, who was suffering from liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, to demonstrate tumour removal through a minimally invasive procedure during a workshop at the premier medical institute.
Ram was referred to AIIMS from the Delhi government-run GB Pant Hospital.
Students and medical experts from several countries were present at the workshop to witness the surgery on July 31. Experts from Japan helped a team of doctors from AIIMS for the live surgery.
Ram’s family has alleged that the doctors struggled for nearly four hours with the procedure.
It was only when the patient started bleeding and his condition deteriorated that the experts suggested discontinuing the laparoscopic procedure and performing an open procedure.
The open surgery continued for almost seven hours, after which Ram was moved into the intensive care unit (ICU). According to the family, the doctors told them they could not save Ram’s life because of excessive blood loss.
Refuting allegations of negligence, the AIIMS said in a statement on Saturday that Ram was scheduled for a “laparoscopic surgical resection by a very renowned and experienced surgeon”.
It said: “During the course of the surgery there was bleeding, which is a known complication of the procedure. The procedure was converted to an open procedure and all measures were taken to control the bleeding.
“The bleeding was controlled and the patient was shifted to the ICU. The total surgical procedure lasted for about 9 hours. Unfortunately, because of the underlying liver disease he did not do well and succumbed at 11.30pm.”
“Live surgery has nothing to do with the death; the whole world is moving from open to laparoscopic procedure for its safety rate. He succumbed because of his disease, and there’re several experts present who did whatever was possible to save his life,” said a senior doctor at AIIMS who did not want to be named.
The statement said Ram had “cirrhosis of the liver due to hepatitis B virus infection and liver cancer”. He had a detailed pre-operative assessment for feasibility of removing the tumour surgically.
“The patient’s relatives were kept informed of the patient’s condition after shifting to the ICU and subsequently. The mortality of this procedure in patients with cirrhosis in most centres of the world is in the range of 5-10%,” the statement said.