Monday, January 27, 2014

Medical negligence: Surgeon loses PMDC membership, pension

The patient lost feeling in her back and legs after the operation. PHOTO: FILE
The Punjab Health Care Commission, in a landmark ruling last week, stripped the head of the orthopaedic department at the Allied Hospital of his Pakistan Medical and Dental Council membership and pension and benefits for negligence, misconduct and inefficiency in performing a surgery.
The commission pronounced its verdict against Dr Rasool Ahmad Chaudhry on a petition filed by the parents of Ayesha Karim*, a 20-year-old BSc student at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
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Karim had visited Allied Hospital in December, 2012, complaining of severe pain in her right arm. She was advised an X-ray. Doctors said she had bilateral cervical ribs.
When the case was brought to Dr Chaudhry, he advised an immediate surgery on her ribs “otherwise her lungs and arms could be severely damaged,” he told the girl’s parents.
Karim was admitted to Allied Hospital on December 11, 2012, and operated on December 17, 2012. However, her movement became impaired after the surgery.
Karim’s family strongly protested against Dr Chaudhry. The Punjab Medical College-Allied Hospital’s administration constituted a special medical board comprising Professor of Surgery Dr Shahzad Awais, Professor of Neurosurgery Dr Tariq Ahmed and Neuro Physician Dr Javed Iqbal.
The board heard both sides but the verdict was not pronounced for two months. Karim’s family protested the delay. Her father, Karim Amjad, said, “The medical board is bound by law to pronounce its verdict within 90 days of filing the application. The board completed its investigation in 30 days but delayed the pronouncement of verdict.”
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The chief minister took notice of the demonstrations organised by the girl’s family and directed the Punjab Health Care Commission to probe the matter.
The commission recorded the statements afresh and held Dr Chaudhry responsible for Sajjad’s disability.
The commission observed that after her surgery, she had reported trouble in movement…especially in her back. She was examined by Neurosurgeon Dr Tariq Ahmad of the Allied Hospital who had suggested an MRI that then revealed that two vertebrae in the spinal cord had been damaged in the surgery.
The commission directed Allied Hospital administration to pay Karim Rs100,000. The commission also cancelled Dr Chaudhry’s Pakistan Medical and Dental Council membership and ordered the forfeiture of his pension and other benefits he was entitled.
The commission also directed the Health Department to take appropriate action against Dr Chaudhry.
The commission observed that the doctor was guilty of negligence, misconduct and inefficiency. The commission also observed that all post retirement benefits due to Dr Chaudhry would be forfeited to Karim for the management of her condition.
The commission asked the hospital administration to ensure the implementation of the minimum service delivery standards.
*The complainants’ names have been changed to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2014.

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