A police case was registered against a Govandi doctor over the death of a newborn boy on Saturday, a day after the infant died after being allegedly refused treatment at Jeevan Jyot Hospital since the family had the scrapped Rs500 notes to pay the bill. The state public health department also ordered a probe into the alleged case of medical negligence. Dr Sheetal Kamath, however, denied the family’s claims, saying the facts were manipulated and presented in a media report that blamed the hospital for not admitting the patient.
“The patient [newborn baby] was a 1.5kg baby delivered in the toilet at home on November 9. I [Jeevan Jyot Hospital] don’t have Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) facilities and hence [I] gave a letter referring the baby and mother to Sion Hospital,” said Dr Kamath. “I practice in the area doing low-cost affordable deliveries. I am the last person to turn away a patient.”
HT tried to get in touch with Jagadish Sharma, the father of the infant, but he had not responded to queries till the time of going to press.
While the police have filed a first information report (FIR) against Dr Kamath under sections 304A (causing death by negligence) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), state health minister Dr Deepak Sawant said a state-level committee, which will be set up on Monday, will investigate the matter and give its verdict in eight days.
“We haven’t received the complaint yet. The committee is formed to investigate the matter based on the media report. Based on its verdict, we will decide if we have to take action or not,” said Sawant.
Bhimashankar Dhole, senior police inspector of Shivaji Nagar police station, said, “The allegation was that the hospital refused to admit the patient because Jagadish Sharma, father of the child offered two Rs 500 notes to pay the bill of Rs 4,500. While Dr Kamat is booked for death by negligence, prima facie, the hospital referred the patient because they didn’t have an NICU. The action will be taken only after we get an opinion by state-level committee.”
Medico-legal experts on the other hand, citing a 2009 Supreme Court judgment on death due to medical negligence, said the doctor is unlikely to face conviction as the hospital had merely referred the critical newborn boy, sighting unavailability of a NICU to attend the child.
Anand Patwardhan, legal committee chairman for Council for Fair Business Practices and a medico-legal expert, said that the available evidence doesn’t stand a case of medical negligence against Dr Kamath. “The judgment clearly explains a case of medical negligence as ‘negligence was gross amounting to recklessness,’ which in this case doesn’t seem so. If the hospital didn’t have an NICU and it referred the patient, prima facie, it doesn’t amount to medical negligence,” said Patwardhan.