The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctors missing, salesmen prescribe pills

Durgapur, Aug. 11: Two medical representatives were caught playing doctors at the outpatient department of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital this afternoon, but the authorities had no complaints and police were forced to let them go scot free.

Local people and relatives of patients dragged the two out of the doctors’ chamber and marched them to the hospital superintendent’s office for identification.

When superintendent Sarit Chowdhury confirmed that Sanjib Poddar and Kazi Nizamul Haque were not physicians attached to the hospital, the mob beat them up.

The din attracted relatives of other patients who came over and accused medical representatives of frequently disrupting normal activities at the hospital.

Chowdhury called in police, who rescued the two.

They were taken to Burdwan police station but were released in the evening in the absence of a complaint. “We cannot arrest anyone without an official complaint, so we had to release them. The hospital did not lodge any complaint with us,” said Peeyush Pandey, the district superintendent of police.

The hospital superintendent, however, said an internal inquiry had been initiated. A panel, which he heads, will conduct the probe.

“The doctors, P. Das and N.D. Dutta, in whose chambers the medical representatives were found treating patients have been asked to explain their absence. We will lodge a complaint with the police only after completing the inquiry,” he added.

Das and Dutta were not available for comment.

Sajal Biswas, a patient from Katwa, 180 km from Calcutta, said the medical representatives were writing prescriptions. “I know both Dr Das and Dr Dutta. So I became suspicious.”

When he enquired about the doctors, the medical representatives said they would be late. “Then I saw their fat, black bags and immediately knew they were medical representatives,” Biswas said.

As Biswas probed them further, other patients entered the chamber to see what was going on. “When all of us started questioning them, the real doctors arrived,” he said.

Poddar and Haque later said they were waiting for the doctors inside the chamber and “chatting” with the patients. “We never examined, treated or wrote prescriptions for them,” said Poddar.

About two years ago, the hospital had banned medical representatives from visiting doctors in the outpatient department.

It is apparent now that the restriction is only on paper.

Medical college principal Pradip Ghosh said vigil would be stepped up from tomorrow. “The movement of medical representatives will also be restricted.”

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