Bangalore, Feb 3 : A 31-year-old patient was bedridden for seven months because of the carelessness of surgeons who left a metal piece in his spine, reports Bangalore Mirror. All through this ordeal, the surgeons were telling him that the pain was only in his mind.
31-year-old KPO executive Phani Prakash had undergone surgery to correct a disc prolapse, but this proved costly.
He was unable to move an inch from his bed for seven months. Reason: his spine has been damaged after surgeons left a piece of the forceps inside his body.
Though they assured his family that it was only a small piece and would not affect the patient, Prakash was reduced to lying on the bed and gazing at the ceiling fan in his house in Rail Wheel Factory West Colony, Yelahanka.
As if that was not enough, doctors recommended psychiatric treatment saying he does not have any physical problem.
After three months, doctors at another hospital removed the piece, but by then the surrounding area had been infected.
Prakash has filed a complaint in the Consumers' Court, which has referred the matter to the Karnataka Medical Council for expert opinion.
His problems started a year ago. A severe back pain was causing a lot of discomfort in his left thigh and calf muscles.
“I was diagnosed with disc prolapse by Dr C Ranganath, consultant orthopeadician at M S Ramaiah Memorial Hospital. He suggested immediate surgery to avoid further damage to my nerves,” he said.
The operation took place in the hospital on February 1, 2010.
“On February 2, the doctor told me that everything was fine, but for the tip of the forceps being left behind inside my body. He assured me that it would not cause any harm,” he recalled. “He told me that surgeons had tried to take it out but could not. Eventually, they had to give up because, if they ended up pushing it further inside, it might have affected the root of the nerve nearby.”
While the doctor advised Prakash to walk every day as part of the recovery process, his condition was only getting worse.
“The post-surgery pain was different from that during pre-surgery. Dr Ranganath continuously recommended physiotherapy, which I did regularly. But the pain only increased with each passing day. After a month, I stopped walking. It was getting difficult to even get up from my bed for my daily routine. Though I was to take not more than half a painkiller, I was forced to take six every day.”
He consulted other doctors who told that the piece left inside might be creating the problem. “A doctor in Apollo hospital feared that I might even be a victim of discitis, which is an infection in the disc space. I was told that the person who carried out the initial surgery would be the best person to remove the piece, as he would know the history of the problem.”
On April 15, he was admitted to Ramaiah hospital. Since Dr Ranganath was out of station, the hospital's director Dr Naresh Shetty examined him and asked other doctors to carry out tests to check for discitis. “I was told that blood samples did not reveal any possibility of discitis. I was given local anaesthesia and somehow doctors managed to bring my pain under control,” said Prakash.
By then Dr Ranganath was back. He told Prakash that physically he was fine and the pain was just in his mind. He was referred to a psychiatrist.
As Prakash refused to listen to the psychiatrist, he was discharged on April 21. “Since I could not take the pain any more, I was prepared to go in for a second surgery to remove the piece. But, Dr Ranganath recommended avoiding further surgery.”
But, as the pain would not go, Prakash consulted a doctor in Malleshwaram who referred him to Dr Balaji Pai at Columbia Asia Hospital. Dr Pai advised surgery to remove a portion of the vertebral bone.
The surgery was carried out on March 20 and Prakash was advised complete bed rest for two months. Eventually, after four months, he had recovered enough to resume work. “My job requires me to be in front of the computer for at least eight hours every day. My colleagues have been very co-operative. Initially, I could sit only for four to five hours.
“Now I work for eight hours every day. But, my life has not been the same since the first surgery. I was a very active sportsperson. I used to play table tennis, football and volleyball. I was part of my office football team that has won several inter-corporate matches. My playing days are over. I have also stopped using a two-wheeler,” he said.
Dr Ranganath said, “During the discectomy, the tip (in pic) of the instrument broke and got stuck. It was an instrument failure and this kind of failure keeps happening. It is not our mistake. The situation was explained to the patient with the instruction that if it starts moving, then it can be removed. Though he came to me several times, there was no clinical evidence of discitis. The pain was not because a part of the forceps was stuck inside. Infection is a risk in any such surgery. The last time he consulted me, I advised him to get admitted, but he chose to do the surgery elsewhere.”