One joule is the energy exerted by a force of one newton acting to move an object through a distance of one metre.
Inderjeet Nagpal (56) — a strong man with a week heart — had nothing to do with joule or newton till he went to Max Heart and Vascular Institute in Saket to change his pacemaker.
The new device — implanted in the body to help control abnormal heart rhythms — gave him electric shocks measuring 35 joules. The energy is sufficient to generate enough heat to cause local burns.
Nagpal is dead now.
But his family can’t forget the pain he had to go through.
Nagpal’s daughter Neeha (27) is angry. She blames negligence at the Max Heart and Vascular Institute located in Saket in south Delhi for her father’s unexpected death on May 11, 2009.
She served the hospital a legal notice on July 31, but hasn’t heard from them.
On January 19, 2009 Nagpal was admitted to Max — under cardiac surgeon Dr Viveka Kumar’s supervision — to replace his pacemaker's discharged battery. Nagpal had the pacemaker implanted on January 22 and was discharged on January 28.
But instead of assisting his heart, the device started creating problems.
The shocks were so strong they shook Nagpal to the core.
“He would jump about four inches above the bed due to the electric shocks,” his 20-year-old son Akshay says.
The father suffered eight such shocks before he was re-admitted to Max on February 2, he says.
Dr Kumar evaluated him and said another surgery was needed. The family was not charged for the second procedure, on February 5.
“He (the doctor) knew he was at fault,” Neeha sounds confident.
Kumar assured all was well and the fault with the pacemaker had been corrected. Nagpal was discharged on the February 7.
But he never recovered.
“Each time we contacted Dr Kumar, he insisted a Lassix injection was all that was needed to stabilise the heart,” Akshay says.
“He assured us there was no need to get him back to the hospital.”
Worried, the family sought a second opinion. They took Nagpal to Indraprastha Apollo Hospital on February 23. The cardiologists there said the problems lied in the way the pacemaker had been implanted.
“The negligence at Max caused a lot of damage to dad’s heart, which severely impacted his kidneys,” Akshay claims.
Before he was operated upon for the third time at Apollo, Nagpal had to go through half a dozen dialysis procedures. He was operated upon on March 13 at Apollo. But it was too late.
“Even the third surgery failed to improve his condition,” Neeha says. “His kidneys had totally stopped working, causing more load to the heart. He died of heart failure on May 11.”
When HT contacted Senior Consultant, Cardiology, Dr Viveka Kumar, he said, “The patient (Nagpal) had congestive heart failure and was being considered for heart transplant. Changing the left ventricular lead was not advisable. We’d explained this to the family.”
“The patient was okay for sometime after the pacemaker was changed. He was taken to some other hospital for further treatment. We don’t want to comment on it,” he said.