Doctors Fear Giving Advice: Fear Legal Imbbraglio

Doctors back surgeon, fear giving advice

Swati Deshpande TNN

      Mumbai: Leading surgeons in the city are upset over the recent Bombay high court judgment upholding the conviction against cancer surgeon Dr P BDesai for negligence.

     The case was of a cancer patient Leela Singhi, wife of then IAS officer from Rajasthan, P C Singhi. She was admitted to Bombay Hospital in December 1987 as a patient of Dr Desai by his junior Dr A K Mukherjee. She, on Dr Desai’s advice, was set up for a surgical procedure to remove her uterus but when Dr Mukherjee found it was not possible on opening the abdomen, he closed it on Desai’s advice from an adjoining OT where he was operating on another patient. For three months Leela remained in the hospital suffering in pain. She died 14 months later in Rajasthan

      Senior doctors say they now fear giving a second opinion to a patient of another doctor or when a patient is sent to them for referral. “There are two kinds of emotions that are running high,” said Dr Tehemton Udwadia, who is regarded as the father of laproscopic surgery in India and is associated with Hinduja and Breach Candy hospitals.

     “One is agitation
ties said Dr Farookh Udwadia, one of the seniormost physicians in Mumbai. “I would be hesitant to give opinions now. Opinions can change depending on a patient’s condition which when the case is terminal can keep changing.”

      Dr Tehmton said, “It was a unique and prehistoric practice of admitting patients only under the senior doctor’s name that has affected Dr Desai.” Dr D P Vyas, medical director of Bombay Hospital, backed the claim.

      He had told the court about the hospital’s procedure of allowing an assistant attached to a senior doctor to have his own independent patient but to not give him or her rights to admit such patient under their names.” “It was to groom the junior doctors,” he said.

    Dr Lalit Kapoor, founder member of Association of Medical Consultants and urologist, said, “Just because an opinion turns out wrong, can you hang me later? That too in this case the patient died over a year later. It must be explained that medicine is not an exact science. In India we criminalize medical negligence without a rigorous check.”

      Singhi said he has been advised to file a caveat before the Supreme Court. He said his late wife came to him in his dreams “and was full of gratitude”.

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