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Probe panel starts baby treatment audit

The three-member committee probing the deaths at B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children last Sunday and Monday has begun a “treatment audit” to find out if there had been any lapses on the part of the staff.

A senior health official said the audit included an elaborate exercise of rummaging through the bed tickets of patients, doctors’ instructions, prescriptions and nurses’ log books to find out how the patients were handled from the time of admission till death. The audit will be an integral part of the report being prepared by joint director (administration) Manohar Pal, deputy director (planning) Aniruddha Kar and assistant director (nursing) Madhabi Das.

Sources in the health department said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wanted to ascertain if there had been any negligence on the part of doctors during treatment. Incidentally, chairman of National Human Rights Commission Justice J.S. Verma was in town last Tuesday when the baby deaths occurred at the hospital.

Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee said on Saturday that the treatment audit was an important part of the inquiry committee’s brief. Health secretary Asim Barman said: “We want to find out whether there was any negligence on the part of the staff and if the equipment were put to use,” he added.

Health officials explained that the children who died might have been brought to the hospital in critical condition, but the diseases were not incurable.

“For example, Shuvam Dutta (one of the 14 children who died at the hospital in 48 hours since Sunday) died of empyema thoracis, which is accumulation of pus in the pleural cavity. The mortality rate is very high among children suffering from this disease, but it could have been treated. So, it is important to find out in what condition the patient was admitted,” a senior health official explained.

He said it was important to know what medicines, including antibiotics like cloxacillin or cefotaxims, were administered on the child and their exact dosage. “All these should be available in the hospital records. There are records of periodic pulse rates, blood pressure and temperature, admission card, bed ticket, patient’s history sheet, treatment card and diet card. These will be checked to find out whether the clinical findings are tallying with the treatment,” the official added.

President of Indian Medical Association, state branch, Subir Ganguly said treatment audit was the most scientific method to find out whether a patient received proper treatment in a healthcare institution.

Nurses on duty will also come under scrutiny. It will be examined whether they had carried out the doctors’ instructions and made all necessary entries in the logbook. “Questions have been raised regarding the inadequate number of nurses. Through the treatment audit, the role of the nurses on duty will be examined. If there had been any lapses, it will come out in the audit,” an official said.

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