Nanded hospital deaths | dean, paediatrician booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the government had taken the deaths “very seriously”, and appropriate action would be taken after a detailed inquiry

October 05, 2023 06:08 pm | Updated October 07, 2023 12:40 pm IST - Mumbai

Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Maharashtra’s Nanded city. File

Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Maharashtra’s Nanded city. File | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The acting dean and a doctor of Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Maharashtra’s Nanded city, where 37 patients, including 18 newborns, died in a span of four days, were booked on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder after a woman and her infant died.

Based on a complaint lodged against Dr. S.R. Wakode and the head, paediatrician department, Dr. Rathod, by a person in connection with the death of his daughter and her newborn child at the hospital, a case under Section 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code was registered by the Nanded Rural Police, Additional Superintendent of Police Abinash Kumar told The Hindu.

Mr. Kumar said there were no allegations of medical negligence in the given complaint. “It was more against individual and administrative negligence. Prima facie it appears that it was less of specific allegations of medical negligence in the complaint given and more against individuals’ act and administrative negligence,” he said.

Three-member committee

A three-member expert committee has been set up to probe the incident. According to Mr. Kumar, the FIR would be sent to the committee and action would be taken based on its recommendations and police investigation.

“Since an expert committee is already probing the incident, we are not going to launch an investigation and wait for its recommendations,” the police officer said.

As per the FIR, accessed by The Hindu, a 21-year-old pregnant woman was taken to the hospital around 8 p.m. on September 30 and she gave birth to a baby girl around 1 a.m. on October 1.

“Doctors said the mother and the child were fine. In the morning, my daughter started bleeding and the baby was also not well, so doctors asked us to get medicines, blood bag and other required items worth ₹45,000 from outside,” the woman’s father said in his complaint.

When the required medical items were brought, doctors were not present in the ward and Dr. Wakode intentionally made me sit and did not send a doctor or a staff nurse to check on my daughter, the father said.

“The duty doctors declared the newborn dead and handed over the body to the family at 6 a.m. on October 2. Two days later, on October 4 at 10.30 a.m., my daughter was declared dead,” the complaint said, alleging that Dr. Wakode deliberately did not let doctors treat his daughter and his daughter died in front of them due to a lack of medical assistance and medicines.

Case against Sena MP

On Wednesday, a case was registered by the Nanded Rural Police against Shiv Sena member of Parliament Hemant Patil for forcing Dr. Wakode to clean a toilet and urinals.

A video of the act in which Mr. Patil was seen instructing the dean to clean the toilet went viral on social media. It was reportedly circulated on WhatsApp groups by the MP’s aides.

In response to the crisis, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the government had taken the deaths at Nanded Hospital “very seriously”, and appropriate action would be taken after a detailed inquiry while denying that there were shortages of medicines and staff. “Adequate medicine stock and medical staff were available at the hospital. A significant number of patients who died were old people with heart ailments, underweight infants or accident victims,” he said.

On Thursday, Mr. Shinde took stock of the health system in the State. He asked the district heads to visit all government hospitals, municipal corporations and municipal hospitals, primary health centres, and authorised hospitals of medical colleges in their district immediately, and submit a report on the current situation.

Drug procurement

“District heads have also been given the authority for drug procurement. Therefore, there will be no delay in drug procurement. We are working on preparing short-term and long-term plans for strengthening the health system, and there will be no shortage of funds for its implementation,” Mr. Shinde assured, adding that district heads should take responsibility for the health system in their district.

“If there are demands for necessary funds and additional resources, these should be provided immediately. And in case of a shortage of manpower, there is also a provision for outsourcing at the district level. Hence, if there is a delay in providing quality health facilities to the people of the State due to a lack of resources, or manpower shortage, the concerned will be held responsible and action will be taken,” warned the Chief Minister.

There is a State-level dashboard for drug availability, and all hospitals should make effective use of it so that necessary drugs can be procured promptly, Mr. Shinde said.

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