'Unfair to blame duty doctor for death at Neyyattinkara hospital'

The Health Service doctors who went on a day’s strike in the district on Thursday have decided to extend their strike by another day, even as the government invoked ‘dies non’ against the striking doctors.

The doctors struck work in protest against the government’s order, placing one doctor under suspension and transferring another, following the sudden death of a patient at Neyyattinkara General Hospital last week, allegedly due to medical negligence. The Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) president O.S. Shyamsundar said that the decision to extend the strike by another day had been taken at the general body meeting of the KGMOA.

Dr. Shyamsundar saidstrike notice had been handed over to the Director of Health Services. He added that the KGMOA hoped to meet the Health Secretary on Friday to discuss and resolve the issues.

The KGMOA representatives pointed out that what happened at Neyyattinkara — patient dying due to anaphylaxis or life-threatening allergic reaction following drug administration — was something that could happen in any hospital and that it was unfair to fix the blame on the duty doctor, who had done whatever was possible to save the patient. They claimed that the patient had been known to have epileptic seizures, and that this fact had not been revealed by the family earlier. The autopsy report said “aspiration pneumonia following epileptic seizure,” the KGMOA claimed.

The Director of Health Services, however, said that the action against doctors had been taken on the basis of an inquiry report. The report had recommended action against the doctor for not managing the patient better, she said.

On Thursday, the Health Department managed to run out-patient clinics in major hospitals by utilising casualty doctors and 126 doctors recruited on contract by the National Rural Health Mission. No patients were turned back without medical care but speciality clinics took a hit. At the General Hospital and at the Neyyattinkara hospital, several doctors worked despite the strike call. No surgeries were postponed but some hospital Superintendents were anxious if the same arrangement would work on Friday also.