New Delhi: A court here has dismissed a plea by a lady doctor challenging an order initiating criminal proceedings against her for allegedly leaving sponge in the body of a patient leading to the latter's death.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma refused to quash the proceedings started against Dr. Chitra Bhatnagar under Section 304 A of the IPC for alleged medical negligent.

The court said the presence of a foreign body -- a sponge or gauze with a tag -- while performing a caesarean operation is a case of “gross negligence”.

Dr. Bhatnagar, who along with two other doctors, Vinod Thukral and Asha Gupta, at Parmarath Mission Hospital here was ordered to be prosecuted for a botched-up operation of one Sapna who died on May 26, 1998.

She challenged the order, which took cognisance against her on October 6 last year, on the ground that it was done several years after the death and that there was no direct evidence of the presence of foreign body in the patient.

The court, however, did not agree with her contention, relying on the opinion of the medical board. “The medical board, after examining the entire medical records, was of the opinion that the foreign body was responsible for infection and it endangered the life of the patient for about a year. “The infections in the body of the patient led to multiple complications, ultimately resulting in cardiac arrest,” Judge Sharma said.

Police inaction

About her contention that there had been delay in the matter, the court said it was due to police inaction.

“It is a case of police inaction and the complainant cannot be faulted for it. Moreover, the facts of the case are such that it would be in the interest to sustain the taking of cognisance even after the expiry of period of prescribed limitation (of filing the case),” the court said.

A complaint was filed with the Roop Nagar police station by Yadveer Singh Chauhan alleging that his wife, who was earlier being treated at Parmarath Mission Hospital, was operated upon on May 25, 1998, at Hindu Rao Hospital in which a sponge-like foreign body measuring 17 cm x 17 cm and a tag of 11 cm were removed from her abdomen. She died the next day due to a heart attack, he said.

The woman, whose uterus was removed by the hospital after she gave birth to a male child in 1997, started feeling pain in her abdomen. She was later taken to Hindu Rao Hospital where she died after foreign parts were removed from her body. -- PTI

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