Nurse suspended as probe begins into infant's death
In damage-control mode, the Punjab health department on Friday singled out staff nurse Harjit Oberoi for suspension on the charge of harassing parents of the newborn girl who died at the civil hospital here on July 25.
Dr Karanjit Singh, Punjab’s director of health services, who is supervising an inquiry into the case, said Oberoi had demanded R200 from the parents as the fee — which they couldn’t pay — for keeping the jaundice-afflicted infant in the photo-therapy unit (which keeps babies in coloured light to cure them of jaundice).
The hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Iqbal Singh, who was on leave on Friday, told HT on the phone that removing the child from the photo-therapy unit could not have caused her death. “She probably died due to some other reason,” he said.
And as family members of the three-day-old girl said unidentified persons approached them for a ‘compromise’ on Friday, Additional DCP (headquarters) Navjot Singh Mahal said the police couldn’t take cognisance of the case as a formal complaint was not lodged. “We can proceed in this case only on the basis of the postmortem, which has not been conducted or on the basis of a complaint by the probe committee,” he said.
Dr Karanjit Singh said though Oberoi was not on duty the day the baby died, “she came to the ward and ordered the nurse on duty not to keep the baby in the unit if the fee was not paid.”
He claimed that the paediatric ward staff was unaware of directions under the Centre’s women and children protection programme, which provides for free treatment of sick newborn babies in government hospitals up to 30 days after birth.
Admitting to procedural lapses in taking care of the baby, he said the committee would submit its report to CM Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday.