The death of Bengaluru corporator V Elumalai continues to throw up questions with the family's allegations of negligence by Santosh Hospital strongly denied by the hospital authorities. The 40-year-old independent corporator from Sagayapuram ward passed away on Thursday, one month after a surgery at Santosh Hospital in Bengaluru to remove a cyst on his upper lip caused complications.
The family of Elumalai alleges medical negligence on the part of Santosh Hospital stating that hospital authorities caused a delay in treatment and also gave a high dose of anaesthesia. Hospital authorities deny the allegations made against them and say that Elumalai suffered from cardiac problems he had previously which were aggravated after he was given anaesthesia for the treatment to remove the cyst.
The family of the deceased patient is planning to file a police complaint against the hospital. So far, they have given the BBMP Council details of Elumalai's treatment at the hospital. The council has approached the Karnataka Medical Council to ask for a detailed probe into the matter and take coercive action. "If they (Santosh Hospital) has committed negligence while treating a corporator, a public servant, then what about the public? We believe this is a case of negligence on the part of the hospital authorities," said Prakash Elumalai, brother of the patient.
Hospitalised to remove a cyst
Elumalai reported to Santosh Hospital on November 11 for treatment to remove the cyst. He was scheduled for a surgery at 4 pm on November 12 by a senior surgeon in the hospital.
Before the procedure, which was expected to last fifteen minutes, it was decided that the cyst will be removed after administering general anaesthesia because the cyst was in a dangerous zone on the face. The 'dangerous' area of the face comprises of an area connecting the nose, maxilla and part of the lips as seen here:
The hospital also performed a blood test, chest X-ray and an echocardiogram (ECG) test prior to the surgery. "We have also taken his informed consent before the procedure," says Dr Inayathulla Sharieff, Chief Medical Officer of Santosh Hospital.
The surgery was completed and the family of Elumalai were informed to wait till 8 pm and give the patient liquids. "After the family was informed, the patient began feeling discomfort in breathing and his oxygen levels dropped. Immediately, he was stabilised and a senior cardiologist was called in. He performed an ECG test and we observed changes that were not seen prior to the surgery," says Dr Sharieff.
Elumalai was put on a ventilator and the doctors diagnosed that he had developed pulmonary edema.
The patient's family by now had become anxious. "We were made to wait for hours with no news of what was happening. Eventually, we were told he had suffered from complications and that he had to be taken to the ICU," says Prakash Elumalai, brother of the patient.
The family and the doctors at Santosh Hospital concurred that they would shift the patient to Vikram Hospital for further treatment. A special ambulance was called in and the patient was shifted between 7 and 8 pm in the evening to Vikram Hospital.
"We were told that the patient had suffered two events of cardiac arrest on the way to Vikram Hospital," says Dr. Sharieff.
He added that an angiography was done at Vikram Hospital which showed two major blocks in the vessels of his heart, something that would not occur in half an hour. "We were not informed of his cardiac history and we did not suspect anything was amiss because his blood pressure was normal and he was only 40 years old," adds Sharieff.
Did anaesthesia aggravate heart condition?
He further believes that the anaesthesia aggravated his heart condition but denies allegations made that the dose of anaesthesia given was too high. "Before giving anaesthesia, the dose is calculated according to duration of surgery and weight and height of the patient. Since we knew that it is a short procedure, a small dose of anaesthesia was given as inhalation. The dose given has been documented and it has been presented to the BBMP," says Sharieff.
Elumalai remained in a comatose state after he was admitted to Vikram Hospital until his death on December 6.