Couple fight for justice after death of newborn

For the last one year, Mahesh Sankinmath and his wife Geeta have been running from pillar to post seeking justice after losing their five-day-old baby in a private hospital here.

The couple have accused doctors at Telsang Maternity Hospital of negligence resulting in the death of their second child, born after seven years of their first son.

Mr. Sankinmath, a 39-year-old petty shop owner at Badami in Bagalkot district, said his wife delivered a baby boy after caesarean section on July 20 last year. The child died four days later.

“Despite economic hardship, we approached private hospital for consultation thinking that service would be good.

I took my wife to Telsang Hospital regularly for check-up. Our faith in the doctors has now completely shattered. They killed my child,” said Mr. Sankinmath.

The child, which was diagnosed with jaundice five days after the birth, was sent to the neonatal care unit of the hospital for treatment. On the advice of the doctor, when the mother went to the unit to feed the baby, she was allegedly not allowed in.

“When she went a couple of hours later she was given some vague excuses by the nurses. The mother went to the unit again around 11 p.m., but after waiting for 15 minutes, she was told by the staff member that the baby had died,” Mr. Sankinmath said. “For a moment we could not believe the staff. It is more shocking because the doctors had said that the baby was suffering from a mild jaundice. How can the baby die suddenly,” he said.

Following the tragedy, Mr. Sankinmath began his fight for justice and approached the District Health and Family Welfare officer. “Three months later, I received a letter from the DHO that they had conducted an investigation and sent a copy to me,” he said. A copy of the report submitted to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) on May 2013, available with The Hindu , raises doubts about the treatment given and the cause of death.

During the investigation, the hospital authorities said that the baby died of low birth weight and Small for Gestational Age (SGA) septicaemia with jaundice with respiratory distress due to milk aspiration.

However, the report of the DHO finds several disparities in the case sheet of the baby and the mother.

The DHO report says the hospital and the NICU unit did not maintain details of treatment and the status of the child. Considering incomplete information and conflicting records, the reports concluded that it was not possible to find out the exact cause of death of the infant.

When contacted, DC Manoj Jain said he had received the complaint and had set up committee headed by the Additional Deputy Commissioner to look into the case and submit a report in three days.

Mr. Jain said the DHO’s report holds the hospital responsible but does not mention names of the erring doctors. “The new committee will come up with these details in three days, and appropriate action will be taken against the doctors if they are found guilty,” he said.

Several attempts by The Hindu to reach Dr. Kanthi for her comments did not yield result.

Akhila Vasan, a representative of Janarogya Andolana Karnataka which has taken up the case, said the case would be taken to its logical end.

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