Decision taken after it is found guilty of negligence and malpractice

The Department of Health and Family Welfare has cancelled the licence given to Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, to conduct liver and kidney transplants and homograft. The order, a copy of which was accessed by The Hindu on Thursday, was passed on Monday.

The punitive action is in response to a complaint filed by Major (retd.) Pankaj Rai, who had charged that the hospital's negligence and malpractice caused the death of his wife, Seema Rai, who was admitted there in May 2010.

Ms. Rai, underwent kidney and pancreas transplant procedures on May 2, 2010, and died four days later of septic shock. Maj. Rai alleged that the hospital had neither taken his consent for the pancreas transplant nor did it have the licence to do the complicated procedure.

Selva Kumar, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, told The Hindu the action was taken after the charges levelled by Maj. Rai proved to be true after an inquiry by the department. He chose not to comment on the findings of a previous inquiry report by the department, which exonerated the hospital of the charges in December 2010.

This is the second setback for the hospital in the last fortnight. The Lokayukta, which had also probed the issue, submitted on September 2 that Dr. Raju, member secretary of the Appropriate Authority for Human Organs Transplantation, had misled the Karnataka Medical Council about the facts of the case.

The Lokayukta reports said Dr. Raju had said on oath that Fortis was licensed to carry out transplant of the pancreas. He had said the hospital had the licence to carry out liver transplant. As “liver also includes the pancreas and other abdominal organs” the hospital had done nothing illegal, he said. Finding validity in Maj. Rai's charges, the Lokayukta had served a show cause notice to Dr. Raju while also asking for a response from his parent department of Health and Family Welfare.

No previous experience

Like the Health and Family Welfare Department, a Health Foundation constituted by the Lokayukta also submitted that the hospital is not authorised to perform pancreas transplant, and by conducting the procedure on Ms. Rai, it had violated Sections 12 and 13 of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act.

The Lokayukta also found that the doctor who conducted the procedure had no previous experience.

Meanwhile, the hospital said in a written response: “Fortis Hospital does indeed have permission to conduct liver and other abdominal organs including pancreas transplantation. The interpretation of the transplant rules under the Act by the department has been inconsistent and varied as per the understanding of the person implementing the rules. It is unfortunate that the department, which has all through held and testified that Fortis Hospital has a licence, has reversed its stand and cancelled the licence. Fortis Hospital is aggrieved by this action and will be making appropriate representation to the Government and will be seeking legal remedy if necessary.”