In a shocking incident at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, a four-year-old girl underwent an operation on her tongue instead of her sixth finger. The error has caused an uproar, leading to the suspension of the doctor involved and a comprehensive inquiry by the state government.

Incident Overview

The young girl was admitted for a scheduled surgery to remove a polydactyl (sixth) finger. However, after the procedure, her family discovered something was amiss. Upon seeing cotton stuffed in her mouth, they investigated further and were horrified to find that the surgery had been performed on her tongue instead of her hand.

Family’s Reaction

The girl’s family expressed their shock and dismay, emphasizing that there were no pre-existing issues with her tongue. They highlighted the grave mistake made by the hospital staff, who confused the surgical sites of two children scheduled for operations on the same day. “No one should have such an experience again at the Medical College Hospital,” a family member said, insisting that the hospital take full responsibility for any adverse effects on the child’s health due to this error.

Government and Hospital Response

Following the incident, Kerala’s Health Minister, Veena George, announced the suspension of Associate Professor Dr. Bejohn Johnson, who performed the surgery. The suspension came after a report was submitted by the Director of Medical Education. In addition to the suspension, the minister has ordered a detailed inquiry to understand the circumstances leading to this medical mishap and to ensure accountability.

An official statement from the Health Minister’s office stated, “Strict directives have been issued to all hospitals to follow protocols rigorously to prevent such incidents in the future.” The hospital administration has been urged to review and reinforce their surgical protocols to safeguard against similar errors.

Legal Actions

The police have registered a case against Dr. Johnson under Indian Penal Code Sections 336 (endangering the life or personal safety of others) and 337. This action is based on the complaint lodged by the girl’s family. The investigation will probe into how such a critical error could occur and who else might be responsible.

Medical and Ethical Implications

This incident raises serious questions about medical ethics and patient safety in healthcare institutions. The mix-up not only highlights the potential for human error in medical settings but also underscores the importance of stringent checks and balances in surgical procedures. Ensuring that protocols are strictly followed is essential to maintaining patient trust and safety.

Importance of Surgical Protocols

Hospitals typically have detailed protocols for surgical procedures to prevent such errors. These include verifying patient identity, the correct surgical site, and the procedure itself multiple times before and during surgery. The failure to adhere to these protocols can lead to severe consequences, as evidenced by this case.

Steps Forward

In response to this incident, the Kerala state government is expected to implement stricter regulations and oversight mechanisms in hospitals to ensure patient safety. Training and continuous education for medical staff on the importance of following protocols are likely to be emphasized. Additionally, there may be an increase in the use of technology to assist in the verification processes.

Public Reaction

The incident has sparked widespread public outrage, with many calling for more accountability and transparency in the healthcare system. There is a growing demand for systemic changes to prevent such incidents from recurring. The public and patient advocacy groups are urging the government to take stringent actions to safeguard patients’ rights and ensure their safety.


Rishi Malhotra, an adept editor at Atom News, specializes in travel and cultural affairs. With a global perspective and a flair for storytelling, Malhotra brings diverse perspectives to our readers, making Atom News a go-to source for enriching travel narratives.