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To keep up appearances

Sir — Nothing succeeds like success. And no one knows that better than the former first lady of the United States of America. With the past behind her, and herself safely ensconced in the senate, Hillary Clinton can claim to have successfully lived history and made it too (“Book a hit, not Hillary”, June 7). Only a wife who has completely sold herself to the idea of making the most out of her husband’s political success could have thought of merely “wringing” his neck after he had lied to her about an extra-marital affair that shocked even a promiscuous America out of its wits. It is indeed “a most peculiar sort of marriage”. And just as she did then, Hillary, even now is using it to the hilt. Her book, Living History, may not make her a presidential candidate for the 1994 elections, but it will have created enough sympathy and goodwill to take her through to the 1998 elections. Hillary is trying to clear some doubts that arose in people’s minds about her response to a perfidious husband. And she knows that after the mad Bush era, people might even fall for her image of a patient, responsible partner. It’s all about maintaining successful appearances.

Yours faithfully,
M. Chatterjee, Calcutta


Death throes

Sir— The death of the young cricketer, Rajnis Patel, seems to have suddenly woken up the Indian Medical Association (“Horror rerun at hospitals”, June 4). But its decision to work on the side of the victims of medical negligence sounds unconvincing. The IMA joint secretary, R.D. Dubey, claims that the association had warned the government of such a forthcoming crisis, but nothing had been done. Although there can be no denying that the condition of most government-run hospitals in the state is abysmal, privately managed hospitals also have innumerable cases of negligence on the part of the doctor. By specifying government hospitals to be its chief focus, the IMA is in a way trying to exclude private hospitals from its agenda. The IMA is of the opinion that unless the “healthcare staff” of government hospitals are made accountable, conditions will not improve. Who does the IMA think belongs to this category' Are doctors also to be included in this group'

The promises of the IMA sound similar to those made by politicians before elections. The largest medical fraternity of our country, the IMA, has as its members almost all physicians of the state, including doctors who work in government hospitals. Instead of taking disciplinary action against guilty doctors, the IMA has always tried to defend them. The pitiable condition of the healthcare system is a result of this. If the IMA is really interested in improving the patient-doctor relationship, it needs to consider an immediate reorganization of the medical council.

Yours faithfully,
Kunal Saha, Columbus, US


Sir— Rajnis Patel has died of a condition which is not uncommon and given the advances orthopaedic science has made over the last few years, the outcome of the case is truly appalling.

Patel died of septicemia. First he had a wrong plate inserted into his thigh. It is possible that trainee doctors, in the absence of supervision, went wrong. But surgeries have often been unsuccessful in the best of hands. Things could have been corrected subsequently. But five consecutive surgeries were conducted on Patel, presumably without any supervision from senior doctors. The situation could still be retrieved by paying meticulous attention to the wound. And this is where the situation turned tragic. The entire hospital machinery working together dimmed Patel’s chances of survival. A hospital where hygiene and sanitation are horrible, where there is no adherence to infection control procedures by the nursing and lower level staff, where the condition of patients is already compromised by mismanagement and protocol, can hardly offer any hope to the sick.

There is no reason to feel that the doctors who were associated with Patel’s treatment are any less to blame for the tragedy. But the hospital administrators, health department officials and people in decision-making positions must be made equally accountable for it. They have failed miserably in their duties to provide the minimum infrastructural facility.

Yours faithfully,
Partho Roy, Calcutta


Sir — That a simple case of a broken shinbone could lead to death of a 17-year-old boy is astonishing. In spite of all that Patel went through, the very fact that he was kept waiting for hours outside the operation theatre before his final surgery, shows the complete lack of humanity, leave alone medical ethics (“Bleeding outside OT for three hours”, May 4). Despite the chief minister’s call for smooth and scientific working of public hospitals after children died in dozens at the B.C. Roy hospital, the situation seems to have worsened. What is particularly ominous is that the public often remains silent on these lapses, hoping the government would take requisite steps to alleviate their sufferings. However, given its inefficiency, it is doubtful any initiative would be taken.

Yours faithfully,
Kanchan Mondal, Kharagpur


Sir— Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital has the rare distinction of sending patients to crematoriums instead of sending them back home, cured. My family has been victim to the same mismanagement and callousness that claimed Patel’s life. My father had been admitted to the hospital, and I had the chance of observing how carelessly patients are treated there. With a steady decrease in the number of doctors who are keen on performing their duties properly, patients are even more vulnerable to the adverse conditions.

Yours faithfully,
S. Ram, Calcutta


Sir— I completely agree with those who are blaming the SSKM and the doctors-in-charge for the death of Rajnis Patel. SSKM undoubtedly epitomizes the lack of concern and carelessness that characterize healthcare in the state. However, one should not overlook the other factors that hastened Patel’s death. Why did his family members allow Patel to die slowly, despite having witnessed the negligence of the doctors for days' The club of which Patel was a member, now claims to have lost an asset. Its young members could have voiced their protest against the doctors of SSKM.

Yours faithfully,
Debanjana Chatterjee, Calcutta


Sir — Medical negligence has killed Rajnis Patel. But the root of all such problems is the lack of work culture in our country. Every time a finger is pointed at a doctor, his fraternity goes on strike. The condition is even worse among the lower order of workers who have the trade unions to support them and help them shirk their responsibility. Indiscipline and irresponsibility are the two most important factors behind the current state of affairs in West Bengal’s hospitals. Unless this attitude changes, healthcare will remain as dismal as it is now.

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta


Sir—The media is perhaps trying to focus more Rajnis Patel’s identity as a cricketer than as a patient. In doing so, I think, the focus is being laid on the wrong place. Does it imply that doctors should be more careful in treating cricketers'

The case of Patel also raises serious questions about the hazards of being trained as a cricketer. The coaches should be careful about the heath conditions of the trainees and arrange for their treatment rather than letting them be treated in government hospitals.

Yours faithfully,
Chameli Pal, Batanagar


Welcome home

Sir — What’s wrong with Bollywood getting an entry into the English dictionary (“Bollywood gets Oxford entry”, June 8)' Bollywood is a “trillion dollar” industry and no less famous than Hollywood. Given that it offers both entertainment and food for thought, there is no doubt that Bollywood will continue to rule Indian cinema for years to come.

Yours faithfully
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta


Sir — The inclusion of Bollywood in the Oxford dictionary will go a long way in enhancing the prestige, image and charisma of the film city and its produce, and may invite foreign investment into the industry. In the globalized world, Bollywood has been able to sustain itself on its own strength and vitality. It justifiably deserves its place in the OED.

Yours faithfully,
Phani Bhusan Saha, Balurghat


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