Botch-up Costs Doctor an Adrenal Gland

Chennai, India: The state consumer forum has asked a Coimbatore hospital to pay 15 lakh to a doctor whose adrenal gland was surgically removed after a botched-up diagnosis.

In May 2006, A Indumathi, an ophthalmologist, started showing symptoms like rapid weight gain, hypertension, joint pain, puffiness of face and fatigue. She approached Kovai Medical Centre & Hospital in Coimbatore, where the consultant endocrinologist conducted various tests. Her condition was diagnosed as Cushing’s syndrome, a hormonal disorder, and she was advised to undergo surgery for removal of the left adrenal gland.

On September 18, she was operated on. However, the symptoms persisted and the doctor told her it would take some more time to get relief. She waited three more months, but when her condition worsened, she approached the doctor again. He asked her to undergo another surgery for removing her right adrenal gland.

Not willing to take a chance, Indumathi approached Christian Medical College, Vellore, in December, where doctors told her she was suffering from Cushing’s disease, not syndrome. After a month of treatment, she recovered.

She then approached the state commission saying she was misdiagnosed and because of the wrong surgery, she has to regularly go for blood tests for the rest of her life and could develop life-threatening complications. She said she also incurred medical expense of around 5 lakh and had to leave her medical practice for six months.

Denying the charges, the hospital said tests conducted on her showed she was suffering from Cushing’s syndrome. She, being a doctor, was aware of the test reports and gave consent for surgery, it said.

The state consumer disputes redressal commission bench comprising its president Justice(rtd )RRegupati and judicial member J Jayaram, in a recent order, said after a wrong diagnosis and surgery, the hospital should have been more diligent in reassessment but instead suggested removing the right adrenal gland. The bench said the hospital wrongly diagnosed her and removed “a precious, healthy adrenal gland.”

Stating it was a case of “gross negligence and deficiency in service,” the bench asked the hospital and two doctors to pay Indumathi 4 lakh towards medical and travelling expense, 1 lakh for loss of professional income and 10 lakh for “lifelong mental agony.”


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