Following ‘accepted medical practice’ saves Ortho surgeon’s day

  • Posted on: 06th May, 2019

Courts do accept that repeated surgeries are not necessarily a surgeon’s fault as long as accepted medical practice is followed. This case is a textbook example of this fact.

Sukhpreet suffered a fracture in her right leg in an unfortunate road accident. She approached Dr. Miglani at the hospital, a surgery was performed and an iron rod was inserted.

Two months had passed but the patient didn’t get any relief and approached the doctor again who diagnosed non-union of bones. Another surgery was performed, but again, to no avail. Sukhpreet yet again approached the doctor and an X-ray investigation showed no signs of union of bones. The patient was also diagnosed with HCV +ve infection. A third surgery was performed during which the Dynamisation screw was removed, but the patient got no relief.

Fed up of not getting any relief, Sukhpreet sued Dr. Miglani and alleged that non-union of bones despite repeated surgeries clearly indicated negligence on part of the doctor.

The doctor presented facts of the case and stated that K-nailing of bone was initially done with follow up treatment. Dynamisation screws were inserted, which were also removed later at an appropriate time. The fractured bone did not join and bone grafting was also carried out. Stating that the adopted procedure was accepted medical practice, the doctor rested his case.

The Commission found merit in the doctor’s defence. Citing medical literature, it was observed that fractures of the inferior or distal femur may be complicated by separation of the condyles, resulting in misalignment of the articular surfaces of the knee joint, or by haemorrhage from the large popliteal artery that runs directly on the posterior surface of the bone.

The Commission also observed that the patient was diagnosed with HCV +ve infection and this has to be taken into account as it affects the immunity. Moreover, the doctor did not deviate from accepted medical practice and this fact itself was enough to prove that there was no negligence committed by him

Key learning from this case is to follow accepted medical practice to avoid chances of medical negligence.

Source: Order pronounced by Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh on 20th November, 2018.