#LegallySpeaking: Medico-Legal Tip
Tip: "The emergency ECG should be taken in the presence of treating consultant and he should instantly interpret the same."
• Case Background:
Daughter of the Complainant (since deceased) was admitted in the hospital for fever and headache. Later, she was diagnosed as a case of tubercular meningitis (TBM).
• Patient's Allegations:
~ Due to carelessness and negligence of Hospital staff, her ECG report was interchanged with 35 Y/M patient.
~ Based on which Doctor advised to taper down the vasopressors and Tab. Inapure was started for 'tachycardia'.
~ Therefore, the patient developed severe 'bradycardia' and hypotension and ultimately succumbed to death.
• The National Commission Held:
~ Even if we assume that after reading the ECG the patient was advised for a tapering dose of vasopressor, the physician will never totally rely upon the single point ECG. As in the ICU, the patient is kept under Cardiac monitors.
~ Therefore, we do not accept the complainants' allegation that the doctors treated the patient based on the mistaken ECG only.
~ In the critical care/emergency units, sometimes for each case, it could be difficult for doctors to change the name and patient's ID in the ECG machine. Therefore, ECG should be taken in the presence of treating consultant and he should instantly read and interpret the same.
“A medical practitioner was not to be held liable, simply because things went wrong from mischance or misadventure or through an error of judgement in choosing one reasonable course of treatment in preference of another."