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Dr Desai should have stayed for op: HC

mumbai Updated: Sep 09, 2011 01:38 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari

While holding noted Oncologist Dr Prafulla Desai guilty of medical negligence, breach of contract, and causing mental harassment, the Bombay high court on September 1 had also come down heavily on the Padma Vibhushan awardee, criticising his attitude to a cancer patient he had attended to more than two decades ago.

The court was hearing a suit filed by retired IAS Officer PC Singhi. The case pertains to an operation performed upon Singhi's wife Leela, a cancer patient, at the Bombay Hospital, on December 22, 1987. Leela had been admitted there as she was complaining of severe stomach pain.

The suit alleges that Dr Desai decided to perform surgery on her, even though Dr Earnest Greenberg, a cancer specialist at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, New York, had strongly advised against surgery when Singhi had consulted him previously.

Two years later, in 1989, Leela died after complaining of stomach ache for 14 months.

Justice Roshan Dalvi expressed displeasure over the doctor's behaviour, during the operation.

He said that the doctor had not bothered to enter the operation theatre and had walked away, instructing his junior to stitch her up, after it was found that she was completely inoperable.

"It was not for him to direct the stitching up and to leave the operation theatre and go right down the hospital lift without looking back," said the judge.

"His attitude shows how the patients are treated by doctors of such standing and how much the patient can expect of the doctor," justice Dalvi added.

Dr. Desai had contended that Leela Singhi was not his patient, and therefore, he was not liable to attend her at all.

However, the stand has been completely discarded by the high court.

The high court has, however, exonerated Bombay Hospital from the purview of liability primarily on the ground that Dr. Desai was neither an employee of the hospital nor was he under contract of service for performing professional duties.

The noted oncologist maintained that he had not done anything wrong, and would appeal against the verdict.

"I stick to my conviction that I have not done anything wrong. If I had, I would have come forward and apologised," he said.