The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Post-Patel, sad tales of ward apathy

The sordid story of apathy and neglect certainly does not end with the death of 17-year-old Rajnis Patel in the orthopaedics department of SSKM Hospital or with action taken against any doctor for gross medical negligence. For, there are other patients who have survived to tell the horror tale.

Pratyush Bandyopadhyay is one such ‘victim’. For the past two-and-a-half years, he has been spending long stretches at SSKM, where doctors have carried out several operations without much success. He has lost many months of his life, his job and even hope.

Neither Pratyush, in his mid-thirties, nor his family has a clue when — and if — he will be able to walk again. “I am fed up… I do not have words to express what I have gone through on the hospital bed,” said Pratyush, who was first admitted in SSKM after injuring his left leg in a road accident on January 19, 2001.

From bed no. 56 of the orthopaedics ward, Pratyush recounted how a team of surgeons conducted a surgery three days after he was admitted. The surgery was, apparently, unsuccessful. “I was told that small bone splinters had remained inside and I would have to undergo a second operation. But after consultation, they just gave me some medicines and released me a few weeks later.”

After returning to his Chakraberia Road (South) residence, Pratyush realised that he was suffering from infection in his left leg and was then admitted for the second time at SSKM on July 18, 2002, under Dr N.D. Chatterjee, head of department (orthopaedics), who is now part of the three-member team probing the death this Monday of budding cricketer Rajnis.

Pratyush was kept in bed 44 of the ward and after several consultations among doctors, sent back home in October 2002. “They asked me to keep coming back for check-ups,” said Pratyush, who by then had lost his job in a private firm. “He was still bleeding and one could even make out the infection, yet they released him,” said father Tapan.

On February 9 this year, Pratyush was re-admitted and a bone-graft carried out in April. But on May 14, a senior orthopaedic admitted that the surgery was “not successful”. Doctors then inserted iron rods and clamped them with a ring, hoping to fix the fractured leg.

But hope of cure has dimmed. N.D. Chatterjee told Metro on Wednesday: “We are trying to save his (Pratyush’s) leg, which we might have to amputate.”

The tale of Manorath Bhat is no less distressing. The 66-year-old was admitted to the orthopaedics ward of SSKM with acute back pain in December 2002 and in January this year, underwent surgery. “The doctors did not even take my consent or inform me that it was a critical operation. They told me that they would drain some pus from the spinal cord, but things took a turn for the worse and my father suffered partial paralysis,” said son Brij Mohan.

After failing to reason with the doctors, Brij Mohan decided to shift his father out of SSKM Hospital last month. “If I had kept him there, he probably would have died by now. At present, his condition is improving in a private medical centre,” added Mohan.

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