Doc Gets Caught on the Wrong Foot
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05 February 2009
By Nilesh Nikade and Santosh Andhale
Lawyer, 23, sends top surgeon legal notice seeking Rs 2 crore in damages for cutting open her left foot when he was supposed to remove an implant from the right
A23–year–old city lawyer has slapped a legal notice on renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr H R Jhunjhunwala, seeking Rs 2 crore in damages for operating on her left foot instead of the right one, from which he was supposed to remove an implant. Looking at a wrongly tagged X–ray image, Dr Jhunjhunwala had cut open her left foot, only to find the implant missing. He then operated on her right foot.
The lawyer (name withheld on request), who had been admitted to Bombay Hospital in December, 2008 for the surgery, woke up from anaesthesia to find both her feet hurting. “When I asked Dr Jhunjhunwala, he said there had been a mistake, but asked me not to worry since the incision was small and superficial. He said it happened because the X–ray images taken by the radiographer carried the wrong tag (L instead of R). I was in too much pain to even react,” she recalls.
Her family sought an apology from the doctor, but he sent the radiographer to apologise.
“The technician was the lowest in the chain, so he was made to apologise. Dr Jhunjhunwala, with his experience, should have realised that there was no scar on the left foot, and hence the implant couldn’t be in it. Besides, a patient’s file mentioning all the details is also sent to the OT before an operation. He should have read it along with the X–Ray images, but he didn’t,” says the lawyer, who has had to quit her job, as she is still not comfortable with her left foot and is consulting a physiotherapist.
What angered her further was that there was no mention of an incision on her left foot in her discharge papers. When this was brought to Dr Jhunjhunwala’s notice, he said that the details had been filled in by his assistant, and the handwriting would differ if he made any changes. When the lawyer insisted, he sought time, but the assistant was still not available.
“So Dr Jhunjhunwala scribbled on the discharge papers about the incision on the left foot. There is still no clear mention of it,” pointed out the infuriated lawyer, who has served a legal notice through Kanga & Company to the doctor, and sent a copy to Bombay Hospital for information.
Dr Jhunjhunwala said the person at fault was his assistant, who had prepared the wrong foot, and that he had already apologised to the patient. Bombay Hospital authorities did not respond our email, phone calls or text messages.