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Doctor did business over the phone while operating on mother to deliver baby and stitched her up with piece of gauze stuck inside

Tehani Perera and Lahiru Kulatunga who were expecting their second child consulted a known gynaecologist and obstetrician, who helped deliver their first-born, to deliver their second baby in a cesarean operation.

But the operation ended in disaster for this unsuspecting couple. The said doctor had left a piece of cotton gauze when he closed her womb which caused severe pain for the mother forcing her to undergo several operations subsequently by a different specialist.
“I was admitted to a private hospital on February 3, 2016 for the delivery. On the day of admission, the doctor’s opinion was that the cesarean operation could be done on the same day or could be delayed for a couple days,” Tehani said.

“I was eager to see the face of my next baby soon. I did not have any particular fear to undergo this operation as this doctor earlier performed my first cesarean operation. In addition, his wife was the anaesthetist.”

Tehani’s husband Kulatunga said that while the operation was underway he was also in the operating theatre with a little trepidation for the safety of his wife and child as the doctor kept answering his mobile phone while performing the operation.

“He gave appointments to three pregnant mothers for hospital admission, if my memory serves me right. I felt sort of let down by the doctor due to the apathy shown by him to the patient while being operated on putting the life of two at risk. The operation took about 45 minutes and during much of its time he was on the phone. At the operating theatre itself I decided that I would never recommend this doctor to anyone after witnessing his irresponsible attitude to my wife under operation,” said Kulatunga.

He had not paid much attention to the patient under the knife that resulted in the terrible mishap, they both alleged. Tehani underwent much pain and agony for months due to this ordeal and spent a whopping amount of money subsequently for her recovery.

Evidently the gynaecologist tried to keep his mistake under wraps till the end. However, the aggrieved couple decided to go to courts demanding Rs. 100 million in compensation from the doctor and associated parties.

Tehani was 23 years old when she married 29-year-old Lahiru Dushyantha Kulatunge in 2014. He is an entrepreneur and owner of Lahiru Brass Dealers in Kiribathgoda.

In January 2015 their first baby, a daughter named Nusheli was born in a private hospital in a cesarean operation. As the particular specialist delivered the first baby very successfully, they both decided to consult him for their second child, a son who was named Ryan because of the trust they placed in him previously. The parents consulted him every month during the pregnancy until January 2016.

He said that after the operation was over Tehani was seemingly in terrible pain.

“I felt much more pain this time than in my previous operation. When I complained this to the doctor, he said that I was given painkillers for that. The pain never subsided the next day and it worsened at night. When my condition was conveyed to the doctor by the nurses, instead of visiting me he prescribed some medicines over the phone. I was in the hospital till February 6 or 7. I could neither fondle nor breastfeed my baby due to throbbing pain. The baby was fed with powdered milk throughout the time in the hospital,” Tehani said.

“I was given painkillers to take at home after being discharged. In addition, the pain of the wounds caused by the operation gave me severe pain on the left side of the tummy. But painkillers failed to reduce that pain. I consulted the same doctor for the unceasing pain after five days, but he never listened to my complaint of the pain with much interest. His explanation was that it was because I had two deliveries within one year and asked to repeat the same painkillers”, Tehani further said.

Tehani said that she continued to take painkillers as she wanted to breastfeed the child but was not sufficiently fit enough to feed him well.

“I felt weak at the knees. Due to weak health I couldn’t fondle the child for which I yearned dearly. The pain reached intolerable levels and I always felt morose. A dry cough developed after about one month. Again we consulted the same doctor who after examining me prescribed the same painkillers. I mostly tried to avoid painkillers unless I was desperate. Again I consulted the doctor one and a half months later as he knew my medical history. Having examined my abdomen the doctor said that he felt a lump in my belly and suspected either it was a child or a cyst and prescribed a scan,” Tehani said.

“I got my abdomen scanned in another hospital and meanwhile my cough worsened. The doctor who scanned me told me that he observed a cyst in the stomach. The next day we consulted Professor Arjuna de Silva showing him the scan report and he confirmed a cyst in the stomach. After perusing some more reports, he confirmed a piece of calcified gauze stuck inside and referred me to surgeon Mohan de Silva. Dr. Mohan de Silva fixed a day for an operation after two weeks and asked me to show the reports to the gynaecologist and obstetrician who performed the cesarean operation. When we met him and showed him the reports he was seemingly unnerved and asked us to get the operation done by that surgeon”, Tehani further narrated.

Though Tehani’s operation was fixed two weeks later, as her condition worsened her operation was advanced by a week. Before the operation Dr. Mohan de Silva had told Tehani’s husband and father that the operation was very risky and he could tell how serious it was only after opening the abdomen.
He had said that he would have to abandon the procedure in case it was very serious and had obtained their consent to it.
The next day she was operated on for nearly three hours and the doctor came out of the theatre to inform her husband that she was out of danger to his great relief.

The piece of gauze was stuck between the womb and her large intestine which had infected both organs badly and hence the part of the intestine was removed and a colostomy bag was attached after another two-hour operation.

Tehani was discharged from the hospital after eight days but it took another operation to remove the colostomy bag, one and a half months later. Her cough and pain is no more but she is yet to completely recover. She is now suffering from many side effects such as weight-gain, fatigue, difficulty in walking and lifting objects.

All the staff down to the labourer in the hospital she underwent the cesarean operation knew the medical misadventure faced by Tehani but they hid it throughout. The second operation to remove the gauze was done in one of the hospitals belonging to the same group of hospitals. The hospital charged whopping amounts for the same dressing procedure of the wound at different times. So far Tehani and Lahiru have spent more than Rs. 2 million on medical bills since the delivery.

Tehani has filed a case against the gynaecologist and obstetrician and the private hospital demanding a compensation of Rs100 million for willful medical negligence, mental and physical agony she underwent through the ordeal and high expenses incurred for her treatment.

Now the matter is left in the hands of the judiciary. The whole country is watching the outcome of the court case which can be a turning point in the annals of medical negligence that is taking place with impunity in Sri Lanka.

Courtesy by Sunday Rivira
(Translated by Ananda Elkaduwa)