On Monday, when Ranjith, the father of the baby went to claim the body, he found the left portion of the face disfigured.
Nine employees, including two doctors and five staff nurses of Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children, were suspended in connection with the disfigurement of a dead infant in their custody on Sunday. The suspended doctors are the resident medical officer M. Ramesh and the paediatrician who was on duty that day.
The body of a 12-day-old girl who died on Sunday evening was wrapped in a towel and left in a crib in a hospital room after getting her father Ranjith’s signature on the declaration form. On Monday, when Ranjith went to claim the body, he found the left portion of the face disfigured. He lodged a complaint with the duty doctor and nurses.
Following his refusal to take the body, two officials from the Directorate of Medical Education and two senior doctors from the hospital conducted an enquiry and a case of unnatural death was registered at the hospital police outpost. The infant’s body was sent to Government Royapettah Hospital for post-mortem.
A release issued by the State government on Tuesday said that the infant’s face was disfigured when the body was in the hospital. “It is possible that the changes in tissues in the infant’s face could be due to septicaemia. However, whether it was caused by a rodent bite would be clear only after the results of the analysis of tissue by the forensic laboratory are received,” the statement added.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa held a meeting with ministers for Finance, Health, Electricity, Law and the chief secretary. It was decided at the meeting that when a person died of natural causes not requiring autopsy, the body should be handed over to the family. In case this could not be done, the bodies should be stored with utmost care.
The Chief Minister directed that all mobile eateries inside the premises of government hospitals be closed to prevent movement of dogs, cats and rodents which feed on discarded food. The government proposed to appoint more sanitary workers and hire members of the Irula tribe who have experience in catching rodents.
It also planned to restrict entry of patients’ relatives in hospitals to visiting hours. The visitors would also be instructed to eat food only in the designated canteens. Ms. Jayalalithaa has instructed that all agencies including the Chennai Corporation should coordinate with the Health Department to ensure hygiene and cleanliness at the hospitals.
Earlier in the day, a team from the Health department including the director of medical education C. Vamsadhara, health minister V.S. Vijay, principal secretary (Health) Girija Vaidyanathan inspected the Kasturba Hospital.
According to some workers in the mortuaries of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, they contend not just with rats but also snakes. The mortuaries need funds for their upkeep but they remain last on the priority list, the workers said.
A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Madras High Court by C. Sadayan of Perambur, an MTC bus conductor. The PIL sought a direction to the State government to instruct hospitals – government and private – to keep their premises clean and free from rodents, dogs and cats.