How to speak up ! what every patient needs to know !
An Attendant’s Account The view from the other side of the hospital bed Patient’s Name: Asha Sachdev Date of Birth: 28th April, 1945 Died on: 8th September 2012 Survived by: Husband, three daughters
Medical History Patient Admitted to Max Hospital, Noida on 12th August’2012 for laparoscopic surgery of gallbladder removal Expired on.. 8th September 2012 from septicaemia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiple organ failure Cost of Laparoscopic Surgery Rs 30,000 Patient’s Final Medical BillRs 12 lakh, one month’s hospital stay, the loss of a life and a family torn apart by grief and despair
What Went Wrong? • The surgeon, Dr D S Bhamrah NEVER LISTENED • He DID NOT make patient’s family partners in her care. • He took NO CONSENT for additional procedures (Intestinal adhesiolysis). • He kept the patient in the OT for FOUR and a Half Hour, when it should have takenMemories of Happier Times him one hour.
The Patient Had a Stroke..She gestured to her daughter to fetch her a pen and paper.Sensing something alarming, she tried to explain that she could not move her right limb but the nursing staff paid no heed.Almost an hour later, in response to the patient’s persistent complaints , a doctors team was summoned - but by then the maximum damage was already done.
Unanswered Questions• Intestinal Adhesiolysis is an elective procedure, not an emergency intervention?• Knowing that the patient was hypertensive and diabetic, why did Dr Bhamrah carry out Intestinal Adhesiolysis without the patient’s or her family’s consent? Was is to jack up the hospital bill?• Why was no neurosurgeon called? Even if Max did not have one on its roll, the family would have happily paid the fee of an external consultant?
No Treatment for Four Days Max, NOIDA did not have a CT scan machine so for almost four days, the patient received no treatment for her stroke.
Strong Evidence of Culpability • At the time of discharge, Max billed the family for Rs 4,1,7045.85. Very condescendingly, they waived off the surgical cost (Rs 30883) of the second procedure and cancelled a bunch of Dr Bhamrah’s visitation charges.Asha Sachdev with The family was only providedher daughters and the final “doctored” bill.granddaughters in Mussourie
No One to Decode Medical Gobbledygook ‘Septicemia’ was mentioned for the first time on the patient’s discharge slip. Both septicemia and ARDS that the patient developed are post- surgical complications, related to hospital hygiene factors.
Who Was Asha Sachdev? She was a 67-year old wife and mother to three daughters. Health-conscious and very disciplined in her eating habits, she never missed a day’s exercise even when she was on a vacation!
Full of Life…Last year on a family vacation in Mussourie, we pushed Mama into attempting ‘flying fox’ adventure stunt and at 66, she gamely obliged
24-hour Vigil Outside the ICU For almost a month, the patient’s family hung on to every word the doctors said. They sought answers but none were provided. At best, the doctors were nonchalant. At worst, they looked hugely embarrassed (!) aloof and clinically detached.
Meanwhile…• The unconscious figure on the bed, hooked to ventilator - gradually slipped from our hands.• Each day, drop by drop, life ebbed out of her.• There came a time when she stopped acknowledging her daughter’s presence with a smile or a gentle squeeze of their hands when it was placed in hers.
A Pathetic Track Record We have met three ex- patients of the surgeon, who have similar experiences. “If you decide to sue him, we are with you,” they told us. A legal notice has been served to Max Hospital and Dr D S Bhamrah.
I Wrote to the ARDS Foundation And promptly received a reply from Eileen Rubin, the President of the ARDS Foundation ( http://www.ardsusa.org/), who is herself an ARDS survivor. Later, when I broke the news of my mother’s death, she wrote back “I am so sorry for your loss. I know how much she was loved and how much you fought for her. The world is a poorer place... ”Eileen.
In Hindsight…When you choose a hospital for your patient, especially for a surgical intervention, go to one with full infrastructureSeek ex-patient’s referencesComb the net for the surgeon’s track recordDon’t be afraid to ask questions, even when the doctor’s answers are vague or evasive