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Delhi High Court asks AIIMS to consider plea of cancer patient for surgery

The Court has considered the affidavit filed by AIIMS that surgery for esophageal cancer is considered elective surgery and it is generally recommended to perform the surgery within 8 weeks of chemo-radiotherapy. Due to the Covid crisis, the AIIMS hospital has been converted into a Covid facility.

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The Delhi High Court has asked the All India Institute of Medicinal Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi to consider the case of a 44-year-old woman suffering from esophageal (food pipe) cancer seeking required surgery while ensuring her well-being amid the overall Covid-19 situation. (Madhuri Gaur Vs All India Institute of Medical Sciences & Ors)  

A single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh said, “This Court is confident that the team at AIIMS dealing with petitioner’s case in the Department of Surgical Oncology, would ensure that a correct balance is drawn between ensuring the well-being of the petitioner as also the Covid-19 situation which is prevalent currently. Steps for the conduct of the surgery are directed to be taken immediately upon the surgeon/team in the concerned department recommending the same for the petitioner, keeping in mind the overall facts and circumstances.”

The Court has considered the affidavit filed by AIIMS that surgery for esophageal cancer is considered elective surgery and it is generally recommended to perform the surgery within 8 weeks of chemo-radiotherapy. Due to the Covid crisis, the AIIMS hospital has been converted into a Covid facility. 

The Court after noting the submissions of the parties directed that the CT scan report of the patient along with the CT scan itself, may be transmitted to the surgeon concerned, through learned Senior Counsel Satvik Verma. The petitioner’s counsel shall hand over the CT scan report to Verma, so that it can be passed on to the doctor/ surgeon concerned who is dealing with the petitioner’s case. 

After the surgeon has examined the CT scan report, a teleconsultation be arranged between the surgeon/ oncology team concerned and with the petitioner, in order to fix the date of the surgery, keeping in mind the Covid situation in AIIMS, as also the probable date of resumption of elective surgeries.

The Delhi High Court has observed that a perusal of the status report filed by AIIMS shows that the said report confirms the fact that the petitioner has received chemo-radiotherapy at the National Cancer Institute till April 7, 2021. Thereafter, all OPDs and elective surgeries at AIIMS were closed due to the Covid-19 situation. The report also confirms that the petitioner was to get a CT scan done for surgical review. Paragraph 3 of the status report is significant to the effect that it recommends the surgery to be performed within eight weeks of the chemo-radiotherapy.

The case of the petitioner is that she was being treated at the National Cancer Institute located at AIIMS, Delhi where she was required to undergo treatment of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in two phases. The first phase of her chemotherapy and radiotherapy was conducted on April 7, 2021 and the second phase was scheduled for April 30, 2021. However, since elective surgeries have been postponed during the pandemic, the second phase of the petitioner’s treatment is not being conducted.

The counsel for the petitioner contended the status report filed by AIIMS supports his case to the effect that the petitioner requires surgery on top priority. He submits that so long as the surgeon in AIIMS can schedule a surgery, within a reasonable time period, so as not to adversely affect the condition of the petitioner, the petitioner would be satisfied. And the petitioner has already gotten a CT Scan done and the report has been shown to the private doctor, according to whom, there has been an improvement. He submits that the petitioner wishes to show the CT scan report to the surgeon in AIIMS, who is dealing with the petitioner, again.

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Respondent’s senior counsel Verma has contended that currently the entire hospital has been made a Covid hospital, and no elective surgeries are being performed. He submitted that the CT Scan report of the petitioner was required for the surgeon to take a call as to whether the petitioner’s condition was improving. He further submitted that despite the fact that petitioner had undergone chemotherapy on April 7, 2021 and the notification relating to the Covid-19 pandemic and of the closure of elective surgeries was issued on April 19, 2021, the petitioner was again evaluated and seen by the doctor concerned in AIIMS on April 28, 2021. He finally submitted that no mandamus can be issued by this court, directing AIIMS to get a particular surgery performed.

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