Calcutta, Nov. 30: Shyamapada Ghorai, a neurosurgeon and possibly the first Calcuttan to earn the ire of Mamata Banerjee in public after she became chief minister, today accused the state medical council of framing him in a negligence case.
“Eta ekta sajano ghatona (It’s a fabricated case). I am surprised at the speed at which the state council has moved in my case,” Ghorai, former director of the Bangur Institute of Neurosciences, told The Telegraph today.
Ghorai was suspended as director after Mamata Banerjee — then less than a week old in the chief minister’s chair — pulled him up publicly during one of the lightning inspections that became the hallmark of her initial days in power.
When the chief minister, who also holds the health portfolio, asked Ghorai to meet her the next morning, he told her that several surgeries were lined up. He also suggested that the conversation be continued in his chamber instead of in front of rolling cameras. The surgeon was suspended the same afternoon (May 26, 2011) and chargesheeted over the incident early this year.
The controversy has sprung back to life with a patient’s uncle approaching the West Bengal Medical Council vice-chairman, Nirmal Maji, who is also a Trinamul MLA.
The uncle, Bablu Das, complained that his nephew, a 22-year-old resident of Tiljala, had undergone surgery by Ghorai but a gauze was left behind deep inside the patient’s nasal passage. The patient had been operated upon to remove a tumour in the pituitary gland. Das said the gauze was eventually removed at a Vellore hospital.
The Vellore treatment took place in March 2011 but the complaint was filed a year later, in March 2012.
Das said: “I didn’t know where to go and file the complaint. Then I got an opportunity to meet urban development minister Firhad Hakim and told him the entire story. He referred me to Nirmal Maji.”
The uncle added that Maji asked him to file a complaint.
Since then, the wheels appear to have turned faster than usual. Ghorai, the neurosurgeon, has already been chargesheeted and one round of hearing is over.
“The complaint was filed against Ghorai on March 31, 2012, and he was served the chargesheet on October 10. The hearing was held on November 20 and a decision is pending,” said an official.
Maji said the charges were “serious”. “He’s a good doctor but that doesn’t mean he is above the law. We’ll take strong action against Ghorai if negligence is proven.”
Asked if the case was fast-tracked, Maji said: “When I became vice-chairman in April, over 500 cases of medical negligence were pending, some as old as from the year 2000. But we are trying to clear the backlog and 150 cases have been disposed of already.”
The complaint said Ghorai did not take out the gauze implanted to stop bleeding.
“My nephew was discharged on November 8, 2010. But he was suffering from headache and bleeding from the nose,” said Das, a CMC employee. The nephew, who now works in a private firm, could not be contacted because he was attending a wedding.
The uncle said the nephew was taken to two private clinics and to Calcutta Medical College. “All the doctors said the surgery was not done properly. Then we took him to Vellore.”
The Telegraph spoke to one of the three doctors but he could not recollect the case.
Das said he met Ghorai after returning from Vellore but the doctor misbehaved.
Ghorai said: “I never use a gauze for such surgeries. Instead, a sponge is used, which I had pulled out from his nose before he was discharged. The patient came to me twice after the surgery and complained of discomfort but when I asked for a CT scan, he didn’t come back.”
L.N. Tripathi, a neurosurgeon not associated with the case, said: “A nasal packing is done after surgery with a gauze or sponge to prevent bleeding. If it’s not removed after 48 hours, it can cause infection. The patient can suffer from bleeding through the nose, headache and nasal blockage. If it lingers, the infection can spread to the brain.”
If proven guilty, punishment can go up to cancellation of medical registration.