The arrest of a senior doctor for allegedly stopping a sub-inspector from entering the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a private hospital with his shoes on has evoked sharp reactions from the medical fraternity.
Various doctors’ associations have condemned the arrest of 70-year-old Dr. Karunanidhi, who was arrested and remanded in custody on March 28, and have demanded that all charges against him be dropped.
The doctor was a personal physician of Sivanthi Adithan, owner of a Tamil newspaper. He was arrested after an alleged altercation between him and sub-inspector, Asaithambi. The incident took place in a private hospital in the run-up to the Chief Minister’s visit to meet Mr. Adithan who was admitted at the hospital in Teynampet.
In a letter to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has stated the doctor had acted in the interest of his patient.
“The 70-year-old professor of medicine is a senior practitioner who had acted in the interest of public health,” said a press release signed by K. Vijayakumar, national president of IMA.
The association has threatened that “the entire medical community will observe it as a black day if the doctor and his family is further threatened”.
State president, IMA-Tamil Nadu, L.P. Thangavelu said he had appealed to the Chief Minister to take necessary action against the police officer for refusing to take his shoes off before entering a sterile zone of a hospital.
“The ICU protocol demands that the visitors wash their hands, remove the shoes and in certain cases even change clothes to ensure the high-risk patients are devoid of any external infection,” he said. He sought the immediate intervention of the Chief Minister, to uphold the dignity of the medical fraternity.
P. Balakrishnan, State general secretary of Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association condemned the police action and said the doctor’s age and his seniority in the medical profession had not been considered.
“The case against Dr. Karunanidhi should be withdrawn. Appropriate action should be initiated against the sub-inspector. We will stage a protest in this regard on April 6 near the Chennai Collectorate,” said G. R. Ravindranath, general secretary, Doctors’ Association for Social Equality.