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A Cruel Twist of Negligence

A Cruel Twist of Negligence
Monday, 17 May 2010
A 29-year old who had surgery in her back reportedly had a screw left near her spine after a car accident in October last year. After the surgery where the doctor has made some metal implants, her surgeon divulged the accidental drop of a titanium screw during the surgery. Following which she was told that it would be removed together with the metal implants the following year.
Upon returning to get it done, the doctor found the screw have shifted in position near a blood vessel. The doctor’s opinion was not to remove the nut, as it would not cause any problems. There is concern on the part of the patient the nut may move around and cause complications to her health. She enlisted the help of a second surgeon to remove the nut who scheduled another surgery.

A colleague had appendicitis but the doctor of a clinic failed to diagnose the condition and misinterpreted it for a stomach upset. He was still in pain despite taking the medicines which were prescribed to him by the doctor. His condition was no better, the pain persisted, he went to a second doctor who again who failed to diagnose his condition as appendicitis.

Trusting the doctor’s opinion, he drove all the way from Kuala Lumpur to his hometown in Semenyih only to find that pain was so abrupt that he went to see another doctor who wasted no time in hospitalising him at the the Negeri Sembilan General Hospital. The doctor found out that his appendicitis had in fact burst and the condition required immediate surgery.

The two conditions left me perplexed. Why do doctors often fail to diagnose earlier?

In India, a boy reportedly had a fall and was taken to a doctor who prescribed medication to treat his condition. The boy was diagnosed with autism after taking the wrongly prescribed medication as a consequence of the doctor’s malpractice.

These incidences inevitably caused the patient harm and almost killed patients in the process for trusting the practitioner’s judgment. If the condition was diagnosed any later than it had been, death may have been imminent.

The Ministry of Health is promoting Malaysia as the destination for medical tourism that leverage international medical care with the state-of-the-art medical facilities. Medical tourism in Malaysia would cost almost halve of the cost of going overseas for similar services. Negligences of any kind could hold back the Ministry’s efforts to promote Malaysia as a health and wellness tourism stop for tourists all over the world.

There certainly is a need for doctors to improve and upgrade better quality patient care by preventing failure to diagnose, misdiagnosing and negligences during surgery. Most patients who are already suffering from post-surgery trauma are left in the lurge as to what to do despite their ailing conditions while having to fulfill financial responsibilities to their families as the one who brings home the bread.

Irreparable damage to the patients health as in paralysis and disability to work affect their lives, apart from unnecessary financial losses and loss of employment. These acts of negligence could have been prevented if only doctors look into making the right initiatives by looking into all necessary precautionery steps they could take when practising. Under the hippocratic oath, it was mentioned ‘To practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them’.


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