The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Burdwan baby death probe

Oct. 22: Alarmed at the deaths of 14 children in three days at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra today rushed director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee to probe the matter and submit a report by tomorrow.

Officials said four more babies died in the hospital yesterday. Ten children had died over the weekend.

Panic-stricken relatives have started shifting their patients to private nursing homes.

Before leaving for Burdwan, Chatterjee said he received a preliminary report from the chief medical officer (health) during the day. The report, however, reiterated what the hospital authorities had said earlier — that all the children were admitted to the hospital in critical conditions.

“They had either been referred to by private nursing homes or by quacks,” Chatterjee said.

He was one of the three to probe the baby deaths at the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital in Calcutta, where 14 infants died in a couple of days last month.

According to Chatterjee, in Burdwan, one baby died as he was grossly under weight, another had been suffering from acute diarrhoea along with encelopathy, a baby admitted with severe septicaemia survived only 10 hours while a child affected with meningitis did not even give the doctors two hours.

The hospital authorities have denied all charges of medical negligence against the doctors at the paediatric department.

The attendance register confirms 39 out of 40 doctors were present on Sunday, though the experience of the affected families is otherwise.

The department was left in the hands of inexperienced junior doctors who could not cope with an emergency, they said. Only 114 children were admitted on Sunday, whereas the daily average occupancy in the department is between 190 and 200.

Head of the department Nabyendu Chowdhury, too, echoed the report of the chief medical officer(health).

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