News » National

Updated: December 10, 2011 18:01 IST

Jinx or systemic malaise?

Indrani Dutta
Comment (18)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

West Bengal witnessing a spate of medical mishaps in recent times

“Is there a jinx on the State's medical facilities?” seems to be the question people of West Bengal are asking as the State is ravaged by cot deaths, acid swabs reportedly killing neonates and bruising their mothers, doctors going on wildcat strikes at hospitals and now the deaths of over 70 patients in a fire at the multi-speciality AMRI Hospitals.There has been a spurt in the number of children dying in government-run hospitals in the city, beginning during the previous government's rule and seeping into October this year.

Over a three-day period, 29 infants — most of them less than a month-old — died at the State-run B.C. Roy Hospital and in the district hospital at Bardhaman, raising doubts about the state of paediatric and neo-natal care at these facilities.

The authorities had said these incidents were unfortunate but not unusual as most of these children were brought to the hospital in a critically-ill condition with diseases such as jaundice, septicaemia and pneumonia.

Medical negligence was ruled out by a one-man committee set up to probe the incidents. However, the precariousness of the secondary and tertiary care in the State was borne out by the recent death of a newborn, allegedly as a result of a sweeper having used acid instead of spirit when cleaning the mother and child.

The victims' relatives have frequently given vent to their anxiety through attacks on doctors, who, on their part, have retaliated by launching wildcat strikes demanding security for themselves. Services have come to a halt at some of the main government hospitals.

The latest incidents of deaths by fire and suffocation at an upscale and speciality hospital in which the government also has a stake — AMRI is a joint-sector venture between the State government and two city industry groups — have raised the question of whether all these are signs of an endemic, deep-rooted systemic malaise.

Be it highrise buildings or the multiplex complexes built in India have no safety standards at all. To add to the woes we have chaotic setup of traffic, roadside vendors and haphazard parking. Does anybody knows that such setup is a deadly mixture for any event as happened now in AMRI hospital fire. It has took a herculean task for the fire brigade to access the place of fire, mainly due to our indifferent attitude on safety, be it a fire or an accident.

Just by punishing the owners of AMRI hpspital, will not bring any end to such events. Unless the roads in India are not brought under strict traffic discipline, clear the footpaths from encroachments and a responsible parking attitude, tragedies like this may continue. Response can be quick and lifesaving only when we have such setup. No need to blame the system.Blame the people who dont follow it.

from:  Syed Kabeer Ahmed
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 04:44 IST

Dear friends
Sorry , let us not Blame MamtaBanerjee at this crucial hour.
It is not good to blame Individuals.
It is the failure of the system.
All rules and regulations exist only on paper,when it comes to implementation hardly 10% of the standards are met and the balance are bent to the requirement of individuals.
(goes as Black money into the pockets of authorities both politicians and Government Officials).
Having met so many disasters has the government or authorities
pro actively start modalities to overcome such instances.
All have media attentian for week or so and there then the presure subsides until something of such magnitude Re occur.
Such Vital Instituitions needs to be Monitored and Inspected at periodical Intervals so that Owners do not play with the lives of the people for short term GAINS.
Let us help to Improve the system.
Let the younger generation take VOW that they will not Bribe ANY ONE under any circumstances.

from:  christopher
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 16:09 IST

Only the other day, corporate honchos gave interviews in a newspaper
protesting against being jailed for their corporate crimes. So soon, yet
another corporate tragedy for which a private hospital which did not
adhere to safety standards in it quest for maximum profits. Let us see
hwo the governmental machinery moves to ensure that the guilty are
brought before the jusitce and the strictest punishment awarded. It
should not prolong like the Uphaar trial in New Dlehi.

from:  s subramanyan
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 14:58 IST

@Shaun Warren: I could not agree with you more! Mamta Banerji
should understand that it is one thing to be powerful without
responsibility and to exercise power with responsibility. No one can
be fooled any more with cosmetic action without daring to touch the
core issue. Of course, the crux of matter is the corruption and
lackadaisical attitude of the public servants running civil
services. We have to wait and see if Mamta have courage to stand up
and say what needs to be said – rather than just tell the Government
servants what they want to hear. All of us are watching to if she
can pass the muster of a leader willing to take tough possibly
unpopular decisions for the greater good of the people.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 14:03 IST

Both sides of the coin are at fault and guilty here. While the
hospital authorities tried to save money by compromising on even the
basic safety standards, the authorities failed to take action on
detecting the lapses. Is there collusion--the usual suspect behind
every untoward incident in the country--between the two? Cant rule
that out! Harsher punishments to the guilty (both the hospital
administration and the Govt employees responsible for inspection etc.)
would be required. Simply cancelling the hospital's licence (like
transferring a guilty officer from city to a village) would not serve
the purpose. There is a feeling in our country that every regulatory
lapse can be 'fixed' by paying off the concerned. And the present Govt
cant escape the blame by blaming the previous regime on everything
going wrong in the State.

from:  Venugopal
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 12:49 IST

On going thro' other learned & concerned Readers'comments I wish to add a few points. To avoid recurrence of such horrible disasters, in any Hospital/ Multi-storeyed building, Preventive maintenance/ check is a must insted of usual/normal break-down attendance. A team of responsible members must inspect the whole premisis/installation with all seriousness on day to day (or weekly) basis. Also fire prone materials & rubbish should be kept away from electrical switchgear and outlets. E&M crew should ensure no overloading in the system.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 12:44 IST

Very shameful. A renowned hospital has lack of management to extinguishing fire.. Administration has lack of ability to control fire in less time.. In hospital patient admits for his wellness and if he find himself in a difficult situation like fire, suffocation, dirty environment, misbehavior of ward boy, nurses, doctor.. then where he should go for wellness.

from:  Amit Kumar Tiwari
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 11:16 IST

Who is responsible for all these happenings in a reputed Hospital? I have no answer eventhough my anger flows towards management team, Superintendent and his trusted who are expected to do their assigned duties perfectly, Duty doctors, Nurses and Para medical staff and eagle-eyed and ever alert E&M maintenance crew. It is disgrace on all these members for their combined failure.Heads should roll and staff incompetent must be sacked. Superintendent must be punished if the hospital area outside & inside is not trash-free & mosquito/fly free and with bad odours of all sorts. Doctors must be derecognised if they are not attending their duty on time efficiently. E&M Manager must be fired if the electrical switchgear & protection, Earthing system is not kept in proper and Preventive mtce. checks not carriedout periodically in a V V Imp place like hospital. A thorough overhaul of human resources is essential.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 10:24 IST

Jinx my foot! Inefficiency and apathy to the core, nothing else. What kind of inhuman end results do we have to see before we realize we are fundamentally flawed in so many ways. To talk about a jinx is in itself an insult upon those we have killed.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 10:22 IST

Attitude of fatalism in grained deeply in Indian psych, the mass tragedies with scores of people loosing life, is invariably passed on the "bad luck" and quickly forgotten. It is repeated seen that in depth analysis to identify the root cause of disaster will be consigned to dust bin and no follow up action. Recall Bangalore Carlton tower fire accident of Feb 2010 very similar to the present tragedy, after the initial outrage the accident was forgotten to be remembered only now. Of the Bourbons Talleyrand is reputed to have remarked: "They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing." And neither have the Indian administrators.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 09:28 IST

There is a jinx not only in the state medical facilities but elsewhere too. Recall only a few months back, a hospital at Jodhpur saw dozens of infant death and it was reported in the media that there was hardly any time to sanitise the labour room for the next delivery to take place. Now the nemesis has struck West Bengal again so soon with a massive hospital fire. The usual blame game will ensue and soon we shall forget. But can we continue to gloss over the way we are functioning. Look at the Uphaar fire, the death of school pupils in large numbers at a Kumbakonam school by a similar tragedy, the fire at an AC compartment of Rajadhani recently,etc. and now the infant deaths in hospitals and a massive fire at a Kolkatta hospital. Health is a state subject but centre to has a massive responsibility to oversee whether the country as a whole is on good standards for safe deliveries and good health care at the village level. I have rarely come across serious debates in any assemblies.

from:  s subramanyan
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 09:13 IST

Systemic malaise.

from:  Satya
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 07:26 IST

Most hospitals, with a few exceptions, go on a sleep-mode in the nights. There is absolutely no vigil maintained to ensure safety of people and security of systems including physical security in many hospitals in India, including the ones in the corporate sector, with a few exceptions. The level of laxity in safety and security in hospitals in India is so alarmingly high that even a namesake terrorist organization can easily consider many hospitals in India as soft-targets. In West Bengal, most public utilities lost their meaning in the more-than-3-decades of left rule. People got resigned to live with all compromises. Minds got wired into 'adjust-and-live' in all walks of life. Kolkata continued to live blissfully, as though it had a moral obligation to live the way how Dominique Lapierre, in his book "City of Joy", described it, bringing out the utter lack of social consciousness. An unprecedented people's revolution can only save Kolkata from sinking down in the quagmire.

from:  Govind Srinivasan
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 07:14 IST

Why target only hospitals or medical facilities for this incident. Many such tragedies have happened in all sorts of buildings and many are bound to happen. The very requirement of Safety against fire is absolutely neglected in every building that is being built. If at all there was a fire exit or a fire hydrant the death toll wouldn't be so high. The building constructions are made on poor engineering design concepts. The designs don't meet standards due to various known/unknown reasons. Unless the understanding and awareness on safety is known to people, these accidents cannot be reduced. This incident is a shock as far as the loss of life but not a suprise as it is bound to happen.

from:  senthil
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 06:03 IST

What is the per capita rate for fire related injuries and deaths in India? How does this compare with the other countries?

from:  Mah
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 05:30 IST

Mamta Banerji with her rabble rousing ways has to introspect and accept moral responsibility , since she is also the Health Minister, and may be put in her papers. It is one thing to shout when in opposition, but is entirely a different matter to run the show with a sense of responsibility. Mamta may be good and effective in the opposition, but as a leader or CM, her capability is pathetic. Her record as Minister of Railways was a disaster. The people of West Bengal must seriously determine if she is the right person to lead West Bengal out of it's misery.

from:  Shaun Warren
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 04:13 IST

Rules and Regulations are laid down for the infrastructure and functioning of all institutes- schools, hospitals, shopping malls, theaters etc. And all of these are usually quite thorough in its principles. But the problem lies in the implementation side. Usually corners are cut for the sake of convenience. Some examples- Buildings are required to have emergency exits, but in most of them they are locked because it would be cheaper or easier this way. Or most hospitals and medical colleges run a farce show to get through with IMA inspections. In all these cases, its ON PAPER. But not in the real world. Could the fire at AMRI be one of these cases?

from:  Affan AK
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 03:38 IST

Utter Callousness!!. High rise building accidents have happened in the recent past. We saw a similar incident in Bangalore. Did we have an alternate evacuation stairs for all of these buildings. We dont see any govt see any Govt fire certification officers being held to accountability OR for that matter any accident that happens because of audit miscertfication in other areas. Unless heads roll at the top level, others at same level are not going to take serious interest.

from:  Govind
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 at 03:22 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Tamil Nadu

Andhra Pradesh

Other States






Recent Article in National

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury during the meet-the-press programme in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. .Photo:S.Gopakumar

No alliance with Congress: Yechury

However, it would be issue-to-issue coordination in Parliament based on development, says the CPI (M) general secretary »