The director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) suspended Dr A Sampath Kumar from the post of Head and Chief of the Department of Cardiovascular And Thoracic Surgery on Thursday for alleged medical negligence that led to the death of a 12-year-old boy in March this year.
The Director’s decision was, however, rendered void by Health Minister and AIIMS Chairman Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, who overturned the order and reinstated Sampath Kumar to both posts within hours.
Both actions are yet another example of the escalating turf war between the Health Minister and and AIIMS Director P Venugopal. Thursday’s action against Sampath Kumar came within a fortnight of Kumar’s letter to Ramadoss, accusing his junior colleague, Additional Professor Dr AK Bisoi, of negligence on two counts — for leaving a screw in a patient’s chest on August 17 and for not operating on a patient, leaving him anaesthetised for three hours on August 29. Though a committee set up by Dr. Venugopal acquitted Bisoi of the charges, another panel, set up by the Health Minister under AIIMS Dean RC Deka, is looking into the allegations.
Critics are alleging that Venugopal “dug out” medical records and charged Kumar with negligence to level scores, after disciplinary action was initiated against Bisoi on the basis of Kumar’s complaint. “It’s just an example of digging up dirt to muddy the waters. We are shocked that action against Kumar is being taken for a case that allegedly happened over seven months ago,” says an AIIMS professor.
“Action against Dr Kumar is just a coincidence. Though the boy died on March 18, we learnt of the death only after a newspaper reported it. We did not know, otherwise action would have been taken sooner,” said AIIMS spokesperson Dr Manoj Singh