What killed Pankaj Dey' Tuberculosis, jaundice or a wrong dose of drugs' For several weeks after his death on June 6, 2002, the question vexed Dey’s now-bankrupt son Biplab. So, he moved the National Human Rights Commission and the West Bengal Medical Council to find the answer.
On the basis of the documents available, the medical council recently showcaused Manimoy Ghosh of Westbank Hospital — who had examined Dey and is currently in Coventry, England — on charges of negligence. The rights panel, too, has asked the state government to submit a report on the case.
Biplab’s agony began on May 19 last year when his 69-year-old father, a diabetic and resident of Kharagpur, started showing symptoms of fever and weakness. Dey ignored the problem until a local doctor “detected tuberculosis (TB)” after some pathological tests. The doctor checked Dey again after some days when his condition failed to improve. “This time, he said my father was suffering from jaundice. He prescribed some medicines to bring down the bilirubin count, without even bothering to conduct a pathological test,” said Biplab, a schoolteacher.
Dey failed to respond to both the anti-TB and anti-jaundice drugs, which prompted his family to rush him to Westbank Hospital, in Howrah, on May 29, 2002. After the primary check-up, Manimoy Ghosh had reportedly told Biplab that his father could be released within a week. By this time, Dey could scarcely move, talk or even eat on his own.
All the tests conducted on Dey at Westbank showed negative results. “But Ghosh continued to administer anti-TB drugs, despite any marked improvement,” alleged Biplab. “We told the doctor that the same medicines had been administered to him in Kharagpur.”
After several days, puzzled by Dey’s failure to respond to the drugs, Ghosh decided to go for a Broncho Alveolar Lavage test to determine whether he had developed resistance to the drugs. But even before the results could reach him, Dey’s condition turned critical, leading to his death on June 6, 2002.
“Two days later, we got the test report, which showed my father had developed a resistance to the drugs. If only the doctor had stopped experimenting on my father, he might have been saved,” Biplab lamented.
“I have sent my answer to the medical council. The patient was given all medical help and there was no negligence on my part or on the hospital’s side. One must understand that if a medicine does not elicit a response within a certain period, it does not mean that it does not work at all,” said Ghosh, over phone.
Westbank Hospital director Satadal Saha said: “We will defend Ghosh, since prima facie, there seems to be no negligence.”