Proving that the negligence of Dr Sheetal Kamath of Jeevan Jyot Hospital in Govandi is to blame for the death of an infant might be tough, claim experts, as the hospital has claimed they had conducted a primary diagnosis of the newborn child and the baby needed to be cared in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) -- a facility they did not have.
The child’s parents alleged the hospital refused medical treatment because they had demonetised banknotes and the child died 36 hours after he was taken to the nursing home.
Kiran Sharma went into labour on November 9 and delivered the child in a toilet at home. “When we called the doctor, she asked us to bring Rs6,000 along as the treatment charge,” said Jagdish Sharma, the child’s father, who works as carpenter.
As the family had managed to gather Rs3,500 in lower denominations, Jagdish asked other family members to take his wife to the hospital, while he tried to get the remaining amount.
“When we reached the hospital, the doctor said she needed the entire amount in change and won’t accept demonetised notes,” said Sharma. The family then took the child home.
“The next day, a general practitioner told us it would be better if we kept the child under medical observation, as it was a home delivery and the child weighed only 1.5kg,” said Sharma.
Sharma said he decided to take the baby to Rajawadi hospital at 11.30pm on November 10, but the child died till then.
Dr Deepak Sawant, state health minister, said, “We haven’t received the complaint yet. The committee will decide if we need to take action.”
Anand Patwardhan, legal committee chairman for Council for Fair Business Practices and a medico legal expert, said, “If the hospital didn’t have an NICU and it referred the patient, prima facie, it doesn’t amount to medical negligence.”
Help from hospital said they didn’t accept old notes: Cops
The statement of an aaya (help) from the Jeevan Jyot Hospital in Govandi may spell trouble for the doctor who is under scanner over the death of a newborn boy on Saturday after she allegedly refused treatment since the family had the scrapped Rs500 notes to pay the bill.
According to sources in Shivaji Nagar police, they have recorded a statement of the aaya working in the hospital stating that they were not accepting the notes. “The help, around 50 years of age, told us that the hospital was not accepting the old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes from patients after the ban. This is a violation of Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant),” said a police officer privy to the investigation. “We hope she will stand by her statement in the future,” added the officer.
Police stated that the statement of the aaya employed with the hospital is important evidence in the case. Apart from her statement, the police have recorded the statements of Jagadish Sharma, the father of the infant, and three women neighbours who rushed the mother, Kiran Sharma, to Jeevan Jyot Hospital on November 9 when she was allegedly refused treatment. “The women neighbours, in their statement, stated that they took the child and the mother to the hospital where they were refused treatment,” said the officer.
Dr Sheetal Kamath has 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. According to the doctor, the hospital doesn’t have Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) facilities and hence she gave a letter referring the baby and mother to Sion Hospital.
“We are yet to recover the letter of reference issued to Sion hospital,” said the police officer. The police will write to the Maharashtra medical council seeking their opinion. “We will write to seek opinion in the case after which further course of action will be decided,” said the officer.
The police are also scanning the CCTV footage to find further clues. Moreover, they are likely to record statements of other patients as well who have sought treatment at the hospital.