Doctor at Kozhikode MCH suspended after botched surgery on four-year-old

Relatives of the child accuse him of operating on her tongue instead of surgically removing her sixth finger.

Updated - May 18, 2024 01:17 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 08:24 pm IST - Kozhikode

The Health department has suspended an Associate Professor attached to the Department of Paediatrics at the Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, after the relatives of a four-year-old accused him of operating on her tongue instead of surgically removing her sixth finger.

The incident happened on Thursday morning. The girl from Cheruvannur in Kozhikode had been inconvenienced by the additional finger, and the doctors at the Institute of Maternal and Child Health (IMCH) of the hospital suggested a surgery some time ago. She was admitted to the MCH around 9.30 a.m. for the procedure.

According to the girl’s relatives, around an hour later, she was taken out of the operation theatre with a bandaged tongue. When they asked the hospital staff how it happened, the latter retorted whether the surgery was not scheduled on her tongue.

As the relatives informed them that it was meant to remove her sixth finger, the girl was hurriedly taken again to the operation room again and another procedure was done.

The family members soon filed a complaint with the hospital authorities accusing the staff of negligence. The authorities reportedly told them that the doctor, later identified as Bejohn Johnson, had apologised for his act.

It was also claimed that she had an existing health issue on her tongue as well, which was corrected “without the consent” of her parents.

Unconfirmed reports said that a surgery had been scheduled on the tongue of another girl with a similar name and the hospital staff might have made a mistake, a serious one at that. The family members filed a complaint with the Medical College police station as well.

The issue was picked up by the media thereafter and activists of the Congress and the Muslim Youth League staged protests outside the hospital.

Recent incidents such as the alleged sexual assault on a woman patient at the intensive care unit of the hospital and the reported medical negligence case involving Adivaram native K.K. Harshina were recalled.

Health Minister Veena George subsequently sought a report from the Director of Medical Education. The disciplinary action against Dr. Johnson, pending an inquiry, followed this. Ms. George also asked the hospital authorities to ensure proper follow-up steps and enforcement of treatment protocols.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties tried to blame the State government for the lapse.

Opposition leader V.D. Satheesan said in a statement that the advancements Kerala had made in the health sector over a period of time would be negated through such incidents. Pointing out that this was not the first such incident at Kozhikode MCH, he sought strict action against the culprits.

BJP State president K. Surendran too deplored the incident and sought an explanation from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He also demanded that proper compensation be paid to the child’s family.

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