Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict on death row for assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, was admitted to Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital after complaining of acute chest pain on Saturday.
However, lacking a cardiologist and basic tests, the medical board was forced to refer Rajoana to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh.
Rajoana was brought to the hospital on Saturday morning, but doctors referred him to PGI at around 2pm following hours-long investigation of his condition in the intensive care unit.
Sources said that the post of cardiology had been lying vacant for many years, and up-to-date heart-related clinical tests were also not available in the hospital.
Since there was no cardiologist in the medical board, other doctors conducted Creatine Phosphokinase (CPK) test, electrocardiography (ECG) and Prop t-test, besides some routine tests.
However, in spite of 'normal' results of all tests, the medical board in the reference list recommended to the jail authorities that “for further evaluation, the patient should be referred to a higher centre like PGIMER.”
“There would have been no need to refer the patient if adequate test facilities and a specialist had been available,” said a senior doctor on the condition of anonymity.
Another doctor alleged, “Apart from a cardiologist, even the treadmill test (TMT), which is one of the most common tests, was not available in the hospital.”
Sources in the jail said that senior jail officials were keen to get Rajoana treated at Rajindra Hospital for security reasons, but were left with no option but to take him to Chandigarh.
“Proper security arrangements had to be ensured before taking him to Chandigarh. Doctors accompanied him to PGIMER as well,” a source said.
Apart from a cardiologist, the 'super specialist' hospital also lacks radiotherapist, nephrologist, neonatologist, neurosurgeon and gastroenterologist.
“This is the reason that most of the critical cases are referred either to private hospitals or other better health institutions,” a doctor said.
Medical superintendent VK Sharda could not be contacted, while deputy superintendent Harshinder Kaur refused to comment on the matter.