Ravi Rai, 24, woke up in shock at Fortis hospital, Shalimar Bagh with a plaster on his left leg. He had been admitted to undergo a surgery to fix his right ankle that he had broken in a fall at home, but here he was with his left leg plastered.
“Ravi was made to lie face-down and was given a local anaesthesia so he could not feel anything waist-down. Hence, he did not realise that the wrong leg had been operated upon until he woke up in the recovery room,” said his father Ramkaran Rai, who has a business selling utensils in north Delhi’s Ashok Vihar.
Ravi clicked a photograph of his leg and sent it to his parents. The family contacted the surgeons. “They apologised and said was a mistake and they would remove the screws from the left leg and put them in the right one,” Rai said.
The family refused a corrective surgery at the same hospital and moved him to Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.
“How can a surgeon be so careless? We wanted Ravi to be moved out of Fortis immediately, but the hospital was dilly-dallying with the transfer papers, probably fearing that their mistake would come out,” said Rai.
- In case of death, insist on post-mortem.
- Based on the post-mortem, file a police complaint under Section 304 of IPC. Even if a post-mortem has not been done, file a police report.
- Immediately make a written request to the hospital for the complete â€˜Medical Recordsâ€™, citing Section 1.3.2 of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations. All hospitals/nursing homes have to give the records within 72 hours of your filing the application.
- Write a complaint with detailed evidences (photocopies) to the State Medical Council with copy to Medical Council of India (MCI) and also the State Health Ministry;
- Be prepared to record statements during cross examination. Always ask for a certified copy of statements recorded as soon as possible after each hearing.
- If the state Medical Council does not act within six months, file a complaint to the MCI for transfer of your case.
- If the state government colludes, complain to the State Vigilance Officer/Lokayukta.
- If the hospital has international accreditation with the Joint Commission International (JCI) and National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare providers (NABH), file a complaint with them.
- Ask for a possible â€œcivil caseâ€ (for compensation) within two years and â€œcriminal caseâ€, where appropriate. Consult doctors while preparing the case so that points of medical negligence are clearly spelled out and there is enough supporting documentation.
- Do not hand over any original document of treatment or any other evidence to anybody, not even to your lawyers, friends or any organisation. If needed, submit only attested photocopies in the Courts after showing the originals to the judges/ investigators.
Ravi was taken to Fortis Emergency after a fall at home on June 19. “The pain in the right leg was terrible. But after conducting an X-ray of both the legs and the spine, the doctors said he had injured both legs – the right one needed surgery and the left one would heal with physiotherapy,” said Rai. A CT scan was done, and the right leg was duly marked for surgery, but the wrong leg was operated upon.
The Delhi Medical Council (DMC) took suo moto cognisance of media reports and filed a case against the surgeons. The DMC’s investigations are over and the case is expected to come up for hearing any time now.
The Hospital authorities said that their stand remains the same. In an earlier statement, they said they had suspended five doctors who had worked on the case after an internal enquiry.
“The operating team may have disregarded and side-stepped due processes. As this is a zero-tolerance area for us, the services of five erring doctors and operation room personnel have been dispensed forthwith. Action is also being contemplated against others,” the hospital had said in a statement.
“He still needs to get another surgery to remove the screw that was wrongly put in his left ankle. He can barely move around inside the house and cannot step out on his own. This whole episode has also affected his preparations for the final examinations for chartered accountancy that he is giving right now,” said Ramkaran.