Flawed diagnosis: pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). Final diagnosis: lung cancer. Sufferer: an 18-year-old.
Outraged by the “terrible treatment” meted out to his teenaged son, a practitioner of Unani medicine has dragged two eminent city doctors to the West Bengal Medical Council, forcing it to initiate a probe.
When two rounds of treatment — first by general practitioner Anil De and then by respiratory disease specialist Manish Pradhan — failed to improve son Debasis’ condition, Sandip Ghosh took him to the Calcutta Heart Clinic and Hospital. Tests there directed the boy to Mumbai, where he was successfully operated upon for lung cancer.
The battle over cancer won, Ghosh brought his son back to Calcutta and then launched a battle for justice. He lodged a complaint with the Council and the state health department.
Anil De said he had already answered the Council’s queries. “I am just a general practitioner and thought it was a case of infection… But when things took a turn for the worse, I thought it wise to refer the case to a specialist,” he clarified.
Manish Pradhan admitted: “One can say, with the aid of hindsight, that I could not detect cancer... But when a teenager comes to you, the last thing on your mind is cancer.” Asked about the certificate stating that the boy had TB, Pradhan said he did it at the family’s instance. “I will tell the Council whatever I have to,” he added.
When Debasis first began to vomit blood a year ago, his father turned to De, who put the teenager on antibiotics. After three weeks of medication, De referred Debasis to specialist Pradhan, who, on the basis of an X-ray, “detected” pulmonary tuberculosis. He kept on prescribing anti-TB drugs for a few months. Debasis continued to vomit blood, but “Pradhan insisted that it was TB,” alleged Ghosh.
But with his son’s condition deteriorating, Ghosh took him to the Calcutta Heart Clinic and Hospital on March 16, 2002, where doctors conducted a bronchoscope and a biopsy to conclude that Debasis was suffering from lung cancer and not TB. “It is extremely sad that this boy suffered all these months because his illness could not be diagnosed,” said Sanjay Ghosh, who later treated Debasis.
The boy was moved to Mumbai for surgery. Back in town, Ghosh approached the Council and “asked for strict disciplinary action against the doctors barring them from practice”.
Council president Ashok Choudhury said: “The probe is underway and the doctors have been asked to furnish written explanations.”