The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teen death doc in duty skip
- Sleuths trace private patients treated by Rajnis physician

At a time when budding cricketer Rajnis Patel was lying neglected in the orthopaedic ward of SSKM Hospital, D.K. Majumder, the doctor in-charge of the unit where the 19-year-old was admitted, was busy checking patients at private healthcare centres.

An investigation carried out by the detective department of Calcutta Police into the death of Rajnis due to alleged medical negligence has revealed this fact. Rajnis’ death at SSKM Hospital on June 1, nearly four months after he was admitted there with a fractured leg, had sparked a furore, prompting the health department to conduct a probe and suspend Majumder.

Subsequently, the detective department took over the case and found that Majumder was “busy seeing patients” at private clinics when back at the hospital, Rajnis needed him most.

Director of medical education (DME) C.R. Maity said: “We have learnt from the police that he (Majumder) was not readily available at the hospital, but had time for patients at private centres. We have separate teams from the health department who are contemplating action against doctors of government hospitals for getting involved in private practice against service rules.”

Refuting the allegations, D.K. Majumder said he had not violated any norms and referred to the patients he saw at private centres as “voluntary service”, outside hospital duty hours. “I should not be held responsible alone for the death (of Rajnis). An entire unit was involved in his treatment and must share responsibility. The hospital lacks several life-saving devices and it is also a fact that if the boy had been kept on a ventilator, his life could have been saved,” Majumder added.

Manoj Patel, Rajnis’ father, however, alleged that Majumder was not to be found even during duty hours. “On several occasions, we tried to get in touch with Majumder, but failed to establish any contact. At times, we were told he was busy elsewhere,” said Patel.

Meanwhile, sleuths from the criminal investigation wing of Calcutta Police managed to obtain evidence of two patients whom Majumder had seen at private centres while Rajnis was in hospital. These patients were summoned to Lalbazar and their statements recorded.

Police are now waiting for the health department’s investigation report, based on which the government suspended Majumder. “That report is very important for us. We have come up with new findings, but for the sake of investigation we cannot divulge the details,” said Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner (I), detective department.

Mitra’s men had moved Alipore police court on September 30 and obtained an order directing the health department to send the medical report to the police within 10 days. “We will definitely abide by the court’s order and hand over a copy of the report to them in the next few days,” said DME Maity.

Police, it is learnt, have obtained the exact dates when Majumder visited private clinics during Patel’s four-month ordeal at SSKM Hospital, before his death from five successive botched surgeries, four of them conducted by post-graduate trainees.

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