The Dakshina Kannada District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked a doctor to pay Rs. 15 lakh and the Colaco Hospital Rs. 5 lakh to a 28-year-old patient for leaving a metal piece in his body after a surgery.

The forum has asked them to pay 9 per cent interest from the date of complaint before the forum besides Rs. 2,000 towards the cost of litigation.

Arvine Kotian, who had to quit his job in Dubai on being rendered unable to sit or walk a year after the surgery by Arjun Shetty, a consultant neurosurgeon, had petitioned the forum.

The forum observed that Dr. Shetty “acted without any reasonable degree of care and diligence … By having acted carelessly in a manner which is not expected of a medical practitioner and accordingly he has committed medical negligence by leaving surgical instrument inside the lumbar region of the complainant.”

The forum, headed by Asha K. Shetty, added that leaving a metal piece in a lumbar region “is not a joke. The metal piece may lead to infection and septicaemia (and) ultimately lead to his death…” 

The forum said Dr. Shetty had “… not informed the same to the complainant or his relatives either at the time of discharge or before the discharge. He … or the hospital authorities ought to have mentioned (this) … in the discharge summary.” The doctor had contended that he had informed the complainant and his father.

The forum concluded that the doctor had not made written notes to the hospital authority (about this turn of events) and that the surgeon had prepared the operation notes after the discharge of the complainant.

The forum did not accept the contention of the hospital that it had provided only paramedical services and that the patient had chosen to consult Dr. Arjun Shetty who is not an employee, and hence it was not liable to compensate the patient.

The forum said: “It is the duty of the paramedical staff to check the surgical instrument after the procedure and make a note of the same. But the hospital failed to discharge the same which amounts (sic) to gross negligence.” Besides, patients got admitted to a hospital relying upon it to provide them the medical service for which they pay necessary fee. The hospital cannot be allowed to escape from the liability by stating that there was no relationship between the hospital and the surgeon who did the operation.

Mr. Kotian, a B.Com. graduate, had taken treatment at the hospital after arriving here from Dubai in 2007. He said the turn of events had made him “nothing but a living dead man”.

He said he was the only source of livelihood to his aged parents and had lost a prospect of a happy married life. 

Dr. Shetty submitted that he had tried hard to remove the metal piece embedded deeply in the lumbar region exercising utmost care and diligence but breaking of the forceps during surgery was not within the control of the surgeon. The forum said: “If he had made sincere efforts, he could have … made the correctional operation instead of taking inconsistent, false pleas and misleading the forum.” 

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