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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Nair Hospital suicide: Student faced casteist taunts, says probe committee

One of the three accused doctors arrested,

mumbai Updated: May 29, 2019 00:17 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Dr Payal Tadvi’s family & All India Students Federation (AISF) stage a protest outside Nair Hospital.
Dr Payal Tadvi’s family & All India Students Federation (AISF) stage a protest outside Nair Hospital.

Investigating allegations that Dr Payal Tadvi, a medical student and resident doctor at BYL Nair Hospital, committed suicide following harassment by colleagues, the anti-ragging committee of the state health department found prima facie evidence that Dr Tadvi had been subjected to casteist taunts. The committee submitted its report to the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) on Tuesday. The quantum of punishment against the accused will be decided in two days.

“The investigations are over and the report proves involvement of the three doctors,” said medical education minister Girish Mahajan. The three accused are Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehar and Dr Ankita Khandelwal. Dr Mehar was arrested on Tuesday while the other two are still absconding.

Dr Kalidas Chavan, registrar, MUHS, said a five-member committee of senior professors from MUHS will analyse the anti-ragging committee’s report to finalise the quantum of punishment against the accused. “Head of the gynaecology department [Dr S D Shirodkar] has already been transferred and a suspension notice has been served to the head of unit [Dr Yi Ching Ling]. Our committee will study the report and take appropriate action against the accused within two days,” he said.

The medical education department has also appointed a four-member committee to review the 15-year-old anti-ragging norms. Led by Dr Prakash Wakode, deputy director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), the committee includes Dr Bachi Hathiram, head of the ear-nose-throat (ENT) department, BYL Nair Hospital; and Dr Ajay Chandanwale, dean, JJ Hospital.

Dr Tadvi, a native of Jalgaon and a second-year student of gynaecology, had completed her MBBS from Miraj Government Medical College and served as a medical officer at a Primary Heath Center in Jalgaon. She was the only one from her tribal community in the village to complete an MBBS and began working at the city hospital in May 2018.

In December 2018, Dr Tadvi, her husband Salman and her mother Abeda had met Dr Shirodkar and told him that Dr Tadvi was being harassed. On May 13, Abeda had submitted a complaint detailing the casteist attacks that Dr Tadvi had faced. However, no action was taken against the accused. “The family had submitted a detailed complaint with the unit head of gynaecology department and Dr Tadvi’s unit was also changed for a period, but later the complaint was withdrawn,” said Mahajan.

On May 22, Dr Tadvi committed suicide.

Her family has alleged that aside from discriminating against her, the three accused did not provide medical aid to Dr Tadvi when they found her on May 22. “Shortly before she [Dr Tadvi] decided to commit suicide, a picture of her eating lunch was circulated on [their work] WhatsApp [group], and she was threatened that a complaint will be sent to dean that she isn’t working. These three doctors [Dr Ahuja, Dr Mehar and Dr Khandelwal] were first to break into my daughter’s apartment, but didn’t offer timely medical care which could have saved her. It’s a murder not suicide,” alleged Dr Tadvi’s mother, Abeda.

In a bid to prevent such tragedies in the future, BYL Nair Hospital has prepared a new action plan that includes a biweekly review process to monitor workload in all departments and find ways to reduce work stress.

“Our clinical departments are working 150% of their capacity due to excess patient load,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of the hospital. “We are also hiring a professional psychiatrist to conduct basic psychological and physical evaluation of all our residents every six months,” he added.

First Published: May 29, 2019 00:17 IST

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