Infant left to die over Rs 200 at civil hospital in Jalandhar
An insensitive attitude on part of the staff at the civil hospital in Jalandhar claimed the life of newborn girl as staff at the pediatric ward removed the baby from photo therapy unit after her parents failed to deposit Rs 200 as fee for keeping the child in life-saving machinery.
Thirty-year-old Anita Kumari, a resident of Santokhpura locality and wife of a painter Sanjeev Kumar, was admitted to the hospital on July 20 after labour pains. She delivered a baby girl on July 22, who was kept in the photo therapy unit as she was suffering from jaundice.
"The next day I delivered the baby. Doctors at the hospital put the infant in poly therapy unit and told us that the child was suffering from jaundice. They kept the baby in the unit on July 23 and 24," she said.
"On Wednesday morning, I fed the baby at about 7am. After this, one of the nursing staff gave an injection to the baby at about 8am. One of the nurses on duty asked me to deposit Rs 200 for keeping the infant in the poly therapy unit. I kept on pleading with them to keep the child in the unit as my husband was arranging the money," she said.
"But the staff preferred to keep the baby outside," she lamented. "At about 4pm, I observed that there was no movement of the baby and reported the same to doctors. The nursing staff started pressing the baby's chest and immediately put the child in the poly therapy unit," she said.
At about 7.30pm, the nurses said that the baby had died. She lamented that had the child not been kept out of the unit, she would have survived.
Sanjeev Kumar, father of the deceased child, alleged that the infant died purely due to negligence of the hospital staff and demanded justice for the family.
On the directions of health minister Madan Mohan Mittal, a committee headed by additional deputy commissioner Parneet Bhardwaj was constituted to inquire into the matter.
Bhardwaj said that it clearly reflected criminal negligence of staff on duty in taking care of the newborn who was suffering from jaundice as per the records of hospital.
"The child was kept in the photo therapy unit intermittently. One of the nurses, Harjit Oberai, came to the pediatric ward and rudely told the woman that she needed to deposit Rs 200 for keeping the child in the unit. The said nurse however was not on duty," said Bhardwaj.
However, staff nurse Santosh Kumari was on duty during daytime, who did not report the matter to pediatrician Dr Jaswinder Kaur who was handling the case.
"The inquiry also shows that there was too much stress on payment of fee by the hospital staff for keeping the baby in the photo therapy unit," said Bhardwaj.
"Also, tampering by the hospital staff on duty with the file of child has come to light. Date and timing of death of child seems to have been changed by the staff. It seems that the timing of the death in file earlier was written as 4pm, which was later changed to 7.30pm," he said.
"The child's file shows that at the same timing and date, the child has been shown in two conditions. One line mentions the child as serious while the second line mentions no movement of the child," he said.
Though the hospital staff, including medical superintendent (MS) Dr Iqbal Singh kept mum on the issue, Dr Saru Jhanji, who was on day duty in the ward on Wednesday, said that the infant apparently died of aspiration caused due to feeding the child in a wrong manner.
She also denied that the child was kept out of the photo therapy unit and said that she had talked to Dr Jaswinder Kaur about the child who had directed her to put the child in the unit again. "The baby was again put in the unit at about 12 noon," she said. The MS only said that he along with Dr Jaswinder Kaur, incharge of pediatric unit, was away for a meeting.
Badal orders inquiry
Terming the death of new born girl child as unfortunate chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said that he had asked health minister Madan Mohan Mittal to conduct an inquiry and take action against the erring staff. Badal also announced a compensation of Rs one lakh to the family of the infant.