Calcutta, March 27: Days after a breast reconstruction by a US-based surgeon went awry in a live surgery workshop at SSKM Hospital, the state medical council said it is planning to make it mandatory for outstation doctors to register with it before wielding the scalpel or the stethoscope.
Doctors from abroad can participate in workshops where operations are conducted and beamed live for a larger audience if they have a clearance from the Medical Council of India (MCI) ' in the form of a temporary registration.
But as was the case, the rule is more often than not flouted in Calcutta. The plastic surgeon from the US did not obtain the MCI clearance.
Doctors from other states, registered with the MCI, need not even secure a permission to conduct a surgery here and patients as well as the state council are left in the lurch if botch-ups are detected later.
The state medical council has now proposed that all doctors from abroad or outside Bengal should have to take its clearance and a temporary registration to treat patients or perform surgeries in the state.
Council registrar D.K. Ghosh said: 'With medical negligence cases increasing everyday, our task has also become difficult. It gets more troublesome for us to take any action if the doctors are not registered with us. Now we will put an end to this. We have proposed amendments to the Bengal Medical Act of 1914, which will also ensure that doctors, foreign or Indian, register temporarily with the council before participating in any workshop, academic or otherwise.'
On March 19, the US-based doctor took part in a seminar on 'Breast Carcinoma Update' at the SSKM Hospital along with several other doctors.
A 40-year-old patient, Sonali Roy (name changed on request) first underwent a breast cancer surgery conducted by city doctors before the expert from the US took over for the reconstruction part, beamed live. The team took abdominal flaps and attached it on the chest wall to reconstruct the breast, which was removed after the cancer surgery.
Within days, the muscle flaps 'died' and degenerated, forcing doctors to conduct a mastectomy. Officials said the woman, who is recuperating in hospital, is traumatised and has not been speaking.
Hospital superintendent Santanu Tripathi said: 'I've only heard of the incident as I was on leave when the workshop took place. It is unfortunate, but a surgery can go wrong.'
What Sonali went through at the workshop was not an isolated case and many patients like her are turned into a guinea pigs in workshops where precision is often in wanting.
The Cardiological Society of India has already put a stop on surgeries in workshops because of post-operative complications. 'Surgeries in workshops do not help,' said Ashok Kar, its president-elect.
Director of medical education C.R. Maiti said the government was seriously considering the council's proposal.