Doctors save the patient, but save yourself also.
News of this kind brings tsunami of fear in minds of doctors all over. Not only doctors, but patients also fear that something like this should not happen to them. In general, it will also create a negative impact on trust of patients, because it reflects that harm is a result of blunder done by doctors.
Artemis Hospital Gurgaon, its CEO, medical director, medical superintendent, and three other doctors of the hospital were booked on Sunday, based on the complaint of the husband of a patient who died in the hospital in August last year after undergoing treatment in it for two months. (link)
Reality and impact of this scenario may be a bit different from what is usually conveyed and is suffocating medical profession as a whole, all over the world, in some form or the other. Loss to the patient is immense and with sympathy wave against the doctor, everybody will cry for harshest punishment for the doctors. For a human error (which is called negligence), an unintentional harm and failure to anticipate a difficult situation has landed doctors in a soup. The situations, which are detected by retrospective analysis along with wisdom of hindsight are challenging and are real trouble. Real time diagnosis may not always be possible to anticipate and often difficult.
As a doctor, I am forced to ponder whether by punishing the doctors in harshest way for unintentional errors, especially for one incident is the solution to the problem.
- Can treatment and surgeries be made complication free anywhere? Unless everything is done by a Robot and computers.
- If consequences of one mistake are such horrifying, will doctors be able to do work, especially in difficult situations free of fear? Or really should they opt for being in such situations?
- If lots of doctors do not want difficult situations, what will happen to patients?
Difficult scenario for doctors, as even simple surgeries can lead to big complications in certain situations. Not frequently, situations are unpredictable. So, what should doctors do to avoid to be in such difficult scenario?
How to survive medical lawsuit in post operative complications: Reality is that complications are part and parcel of treatment and surgeries. There will always an element of unintentional harm, whatsoever treatment is being done.No doctor can guess, which patient is going to have complications and give saviour the lifetime pain and shame. It is like a bad lottery. Only improvement can be made is to decrease the number of complications and timely recognition. How to avoid such problems?
- Just be extra careful, extra conscious. Always have in mind that something can happen. It may lead to defensive practice, but that may be the need of the hour.
- Due to irony of present era, the preparation of saving yourself, the doctor has to start from the time the preparation of surgery starts. Most important part is consent. Doctor cannot predict, which patient will have what kind of complications. Detailed consent with detailed list of complications have to be mentioned and told to patient and relatives and duly signed with witness. Complications, although rare must be mentioned.
- Separate consent for anaesthesia to be obtained along with complications.
- Must check for coagulation profile and presence of infection in body.
- Risk to be assessed besides actual surgery, for other factors.
- Simple surgeries become high risk because of malnutrition, infections, low albumin levels and presence of other medical illness like diabetes, cancer, cardiac ailments. In presence of other factors, high risk consent to be taken.
- Never ever risk is to be understated, for the thought that patient will not agree, in case he is told about all the possible complications and risks.
- Careful surgery, with high index of suspicion for possibility of complications is required. Never be overconfident. Complication can happen in hands of most experienced people also.
- Post operatively : maintain a good record of vitals and pain. If patient is having problem, go to every detailed investigations to rule out your worst fears. Investigations will cost some money and people may accuse you temporarily of getting extra investigations. But it is better not to be accused later for criminal charges and losing all your peace of mind and reputation.
- Never discharge a patient, while problems are unresolved. May get a CT scan done and let people accuse you again for getting extra investigation . Time is such that doctors will be blamed and accused for something or the other by retrospective analysis. Let us take a smaller accusation. Later there no body will be forgiving.
- If you are not convinced or patient is unable to understand the risk, opt out of surgery. Doing few less procedures will not harm you.
- Upgrade quality assurance program of hospital and your department. With aim to minimize complications and early detection.
- Periodic audit of medical records.
- Medical Indemnity insurance: importance of indemnity insurance is immense these days. Be careful of not disclosing the medical indemnity insurance coverage, because litigant lawyer or patient may exploit it for litigation purposes.
Not infrequently, whole scenario becomes a story of revenge against the doctor, even for routine complications and naturally poor prognosis of disease. Therefore, Doctors – save the patient, but save yourself also.