Teen Chennai footballer Priya dies after hospital bungles leg surgeries

Priya, a student of Queen Mary’s College, was admitted at Government Peripheral Hospital, Periyar Nagar on November 7 to treat a ligament tear on her right knee.
Chennai footballer Priya
Chennai footballer Priya
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Eighteen-year-old Chennai footballer R Priya was full of dreams that her sporting talent would get her a government job. Instead, she died on Tuesday, November 15, at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) from multiple organ failure due to alleged medical negligence. Priya died days after undergoing a surgery that was meant to repair torn ligaments in her right knee to help her play football better. However, a week after the initial surgery on November 7 and two follow-up surgeries later, Priya lay unconscious in the intensive care unit (ICU) of RGGGH with an amputated leg. She passed away on Tuesday morning. 

Priya was a first year student in the Physical Education department at Queen Mary’s College in Chennai. On October 26, doctors at Government Peripheral Hospital, Periyar Nagar told Priya that a ligament tear was detected on her right knee, and that it would have to be mended through a surgery. When Priya and her family met doctors at the RGGGH for a second opinion, they too had advised her to undergo the surgery at the Periyar Nagar hospital, which was closer to her house.

The initial surgery was performed at the Periyar Nagar hospital on November 7, and the same evening, Priya started complaining of pain in her legs. The doctors prescribed a tight compression bandage and medicines for the pain. The very next morning, she was shifted to RGGGH due to a suspected blood clot in her leg. RGGGH doctors then ran a set of tests, and informed Priya’s family that the tissues in her right leg were dead. They told them that only an amputation could save her life. 

Priya’s leg was removed on November 9. However, her pain did not end there. As her condition did not improve, she had to undergo a second follow-up surgery at RGGGH on Monday, November 14. She was monitored by the doctors while she remained sedated and on a ventilator. “The treatment plan is to ensure there is no further necrosis (death of body tissue) or organ failure,” hospital dean Dr E Theranirajan had told ToI at the time. However, she died on Tuesday morning.

Two doctors at the Periyar Nagar hospital were earlier transferred after an inquiry ordered by the state health department found negligence on their part. They have now been suspended, said state Health Minister Ma Subramaniam, adding that legal action will be taken against them. Chief Minister MK Stalin has also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for Priya’s family, and a government job to one of her family members.

The Health Minister, addressing reporters on Tuesday morning, said that her arthroscopy (a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems) was done successfully at the Periyar Nagar hospital, but the compression bandage wrapped on her leg to prevent blood clotting was wrapped too tightly, causing damage to the blood veins. The Minister also said that Priya was healthy when he visited her on Sunday. “However, there was a multiple organ failure due to issues in blood flow past midnight, and she passed away this morning at 7.15 am,” the Minister said. He said that the treatment was not wrong but the death was caused due to medical negligence.

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