Pvt hospital in the dock over liver transplants

Medical negligence

Family members of patients involved in liver transplants at a corporate hospital alleged on Tuesday that they got wrong advice and inadequate counselling from doctors.

The press conference organised by voluntary organisation HEAL Foundation follows the death a few weeks back of Rohit Chaddha, liver donor for his brother-in-law, at Medanta Medicity in Gurgaon.

Hospital documents produced by family members indicated that Chaddha’s liver was not suited for donation, and the family was allegedly kept in the in dark about this.

“The liver attenuation index (LAI) should be +6 for a patient to be able to donate. His was + 4. There were other complications too,” said Suman Chaddha, Rohit’s brother.

According to the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, the letter of informed consent from the patient is to be received at least 14 days in advance. In Chaddha's case, he had to sign just two hours before the surgery.

“Informed consent means the patient knows the risks involved in the surgery and still agrees to it. Reasonable time is given after signing the letter for the patient to rethink and withdraw if he or she feels like it,” said a senior doctor from Lok Nayak Hospital.

Other patients too complained about ‘malpractices’. Medanta Medicity was unavailable for comment.

Vineeta Jain, who donated liver for her late sister, said she was told that she would be alright in a matter of three months. But she has problems even a year after the surgery.

“I have frequent breathlessness. I cannot take antibiotics and hence face problems in treating many diseases. I was not informed about any of this while the doctors counselled me for donation,” said Jain.

Jain said she was told she will have an  incision of three to four inches. But her stomach has two cuts which run into eight to 10 inches.

Patients' families also complained that their final bills were much higher that the estimates given to them.

Jain's family was quoted Rs 20 lakh, while they were charged Rs 45 lakh. Similarly another patient was quoted Rs 12 lakh, while Medanta presented a final bill of Rs 20 lakh. Patients did not survive in either case.

Dr N K Mohanty, special director-general with the union ministry of health and family welfare said a new policy on organ donation is in the making which will streamline transplants.

“There is legal course that the families can take. The decision for who can undergo transplant and who can donate is to be taken by the authorisation committee,” he said.

The authorisation committee has members from the hospital as well as government representatives.

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