M A I N   N E W S

Medical negligence not new at Kolkata’s AMRI 
2 weeks ago, SC had held hospital liable for causing death of a child psychologist & directed it to pay Rs 1.55-cr compensation
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, December 10
This is not the first time Kolkata’s Advanced Medicare and Research Institute (AMRI), has been found guilty of breach of healthcare delivery standards. In fact, thr super speciality private hospital has a history of violation in this regard.

Only two weeks ago, AMRI and its three consultant specialists were held liable for causing death of an Indo-American child psychologist and were directed to pay Rs 1.55 crore compensation to her heirs. Awarded by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, this amount is the highest ever granted in India in respect of medical negligence.

The award was determined under directions from the Supreme Court, which held AMRI and its consultants Sukumar Mukherjee; B. Haldar and Balram Prasad, guilty of negligence that led to the death of Anuradha Saha. She complained of a skin rash on April 26, 1998 and was dead on May 28. Wrongful treatment by doctors and lack of supportive therapy at AMRI, led to multi-organ failure and cardio respiratory arrest causing Anuradha’s death.

The fact that it took over a decade for Kunal Saha, Anuradha’s husband, to get justice, makes this case extraordinary. The Commission has recorded how the respondents “made vain attempts to come out of the rigours of Supreme Court findings on negligence or read them down”. Importantly, Kunal’s complaint to the Commission in 1998 was first dismissed on June 1, 2006.

It was only later that he got justice after the Supreme Court, while hearing his appeal against the dismissal, ruled on September 7, 2009, “The Commission was wrong in opining that there was no negligence by doctors and the hospital.”

Anuradha, 36, was suffering from Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, a rare dermatological disorder reported in 1 among 1.3 million people a year. She died of wrong diagnosis and treatment.

The apex court concluded that Dr Mukherjee didn’t refer her case to a dermatologist and gave her drugs in excess of recommended doses. He then advised her admission to AMRI, where other consultants failed to follow treatment protocols, causing the worsening of her condition. She was at AMRI just for six days (May 11 to 16, 1998) and had to be air lifted to Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai where she died.

The Court slams AMRI for complete absence of supportive therapy to a critically ill patient. “At AMRI, no symptomatic therapy was administered and no emergency care given. Records show how abysmal the nursing care was. There was no burn unit. No nastro-gastric tube was given although condition of the patient’s mouth was such that she could not be given solid food.”

AMRI staffs’ negligence is further recorded: “No blood sample was taken and no pathological examination carried out. It is beyond dispute that 30 pc body surface area of Anuradha was affected. Yet supportive therapy was not there. AMRI didn’t even maintain the patient’s records properly. Nurses’ reports show that from May 13, even routine checks were not done.”

The Commission ultimately directed AMRI and Dr Mukherjee to pay Rs 40-40 lakh each for causing Anuradha’s death. Consultants Dr Haldar and Prasad were asked to pay Rs 26.93 lakh each.

Kunal Saha is planning to move the SC against meagre compensation. He told The Tribune from the US today, “Compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those who died yesterday due to AMRI’s negligence is a mockery.”










Punish the guilty, Kolkata thunders in one voice

Kolkata, December 10
It was a collective chorus of anger and shock in Kolkata as intellectuals, celebrities and commoners demanded exemplary punishment for culprits and a mechanism to keep a tab on working of private hospitals. It was a sordid saga of ignorance in basic fire-fighting norms, leading to the second major fire in Kolkata in 20 months after the March 23, 2010 blaze at the British era Stephen Court that claimed 43 lives.

“The culprits should be given an exemplary punishment so that in future, nobody even thinks of ignoring basic fire safety norms for saving some money. The culprits should be punished as early as possible,” fashion designer Agnimitra Paul said.

“Punishment should be given but at the same time, the government should prepare a mechanism to keep a tab on private hospitals that charge enormous money for treatment and that too by confusing people,” writer Sirshendu Mukhopadhay said. — IANS



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