anonymous

TO ERR IS HUMAN (7)

 TO ERR IS HUMAN (7)

DR G.S. AMBARDEKAR

In the fifties or around that time a British plastic surgeon, Dr Eric Peet, used to visit Bombay and perform about 25 to 30 plastic surgical operations. In fact, he was the one who helped establish the prestigious Plastic Surgery Department at the K.E.M. Hospital, Bombay.

He was to operate on a very pretty 19-year old Anglo-Indian girl. The operation was rhinoplasty - i.e., an operation to improve the shape and size of the nose. She was so beautiful, nobody could fathom the reason for her wishing to look prettier. I guess it was a case of ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the prettiest of all?'.

Anyway on my pre-anaesthetic visit, in view of the fact that she was young and beautiful and in possession of an unusually perfect set of teeth, I assumed it redundant to ask her whether she wore dentures or bridges or any other artificial dental accessory. The next day, after administering the general anaesthetic, as I introduced the laryngoscope, to my great surprise, not to say amusement, her lower set of teeth came out and the upper set caved in. This nineteen years young, beautiful girl was wearing a set of dentures! After this incident, I have always inquired after the patient's dental history even if it involved hurting his/her ego or vanity. A single bridge or other loose dental accessory can easily get dislodged during laryngoscopy and land in the patient's larynx with morbid or fatal outcome!

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.