ANDHRA PRADESH

Lightning strike by RTC staff

Vijayawada July 3. RTC buses went off the road on Wednesday, after angry employees resorted to a lightning strike following the death of an employee due to alleged negligence by the corporation's medical officer.

Enquiries revealed that the victim, Nandeti Raja Rao (51), a helper at the Governorpet Depot, reported as usual for duty at 8 a.m. However, around 9 a.m. he left the depot to the nearby corporation's dispensary as he was feeling heaviness in the chest and giddiness.

However, employees alleged that the medical officer, Appa Rao, "very casually'' treated Mr. Raja Rao and even without examining referred him to the Government Hospital for treatment. Mr. Raja Rao then went to the Government Hospital but was turned away on the ground that the outpatient wing was closed. Mr. Raja Rao then returned to the depot. At around 10.30 a.m., he again suffered chest pain and was frothing from the mouth.

``By the time we rushed him to the Government Hospital, the doctors declared him dead,'' Venkat Rao, the head mechanic under whom Mr. Raja Rao was working, said.

The employees alleged that Mr. Raja Rao died "due to the irresponsible behaviour of the doctor". "Neither did Dr. Appa Rao administer him first aid nor did he bother to send the patient in an ambulance. If these precautions were taken, Mr. Raja Rao would have certainly survived,'' Mr. Venkat Rao contended.The victim is survived by his wife and five sons. "My father never had any previous history of chest pain, BP or any disease. He was hale and hearty all these days,'' said the victim's fourth son, Naresh.

Sreedhar, a conductor, said though the dispensary had an ambulance, it was never kept at the place as senior officials use it for personal work.

Angry employees gathered at the dispensary, raised slogans and gheraoed the medical officer, demanding his immediate arrest and suspension. They brought the body from the Government Hospital to the dispensary and placed it in an open place as a mark of protest. As news about Mr. Raja Rao's death spread, bus crew stopped services of all the 400 and odd buses from 1 p.m.

Police had a tough time controlling the mob at the RTC dispensary. Employees said that this was not an isolated incident, as Dr. Appa Rao was "notorious'' for his indifference towards lower level employees.

``He doesn't care for the lower rung staff. He thinks it is beneath his dignity to even touch and examine us. Whenever we go with any complaint, he prescribes some medicine without properly examining us,'' complained an employee, Y.S. Nageshwar Rao. The employees also complained that though the medical officer was supposed to be transferred after every three years, Dr. Appa Rao had managed to remain at the dispensary for the past 12 years.

``It is a total false to say that I have not examined the patient. After checking his BP, which was high, I referred him to the hospital as we have no facility for cardiac treatment,'' Dr. Appa Rao said when contacted.

He said the corporation had only one ambulance, which was stationed at the workshop in Vidhyadharapuram as it was mandatory under the Factories Act. Dr. Appa Rao said the patient was referred to the hospital for ECG and other tests and it was unfortunate that he died before adequate medicare could reach him. While the Regional Manager, U. Sudhakar Rao, was away at Hyderabad for an official meeting, the Divisional Manager, Dhanunjay Rao, said the matter was being enquired and senior officials would take a decision on the issue.

Meanwhile, the sudden withdrawal of buses put thousands of commuters to inconvenience. Traffic also went haywire on the busy Eluru, Governorpet and connecting roads, as the crew parked the vehicles on the main thoroughfares causing hindrance to the smooth flow of traffic.

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