The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Drug racket & neglect slur rock hospital

Burdwan, June 10: Angry employees of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital today drove out a retired colleague for allegedly being part of a drug racket and treating outdoor patients in collusion with doctors.

Around the same time, a mob ransacked a part of the hospital alleging that negligence on the part of the employees had led to the death of a former Central government doctor.

With the employees playing police in one case and being held culprits in the other, the hospital premises remained on the boil through the day.

The employees said complaints against two doctors and the retired employee had gone unheeded. “The doctors, Tushar Batabyal and Asit Konar, were helping retired non-medical employee Subrata Kapuria run a racket in which they prescribed drugs manufactured by a particular company and forced patients to buy them from stores outside,” an employee of the hospital’s pharmacy department alleged.

The employees instrumental in forcing Kapuria to leave the hospital said the trio went on with the practice despite the hospital dispensary having enough medicines. “They were obviously getting a hefty commission from the manufacturer for pushing their brands,” said one of them.

One of the two doctors under the scanner, Batabyal, was defiant. “Why should I explain to you. I am not answerable to you, I have said what I have to say to the superintendent,” he said.

Hospital superintendent Sarit Chowdhury acknowledged that Kapuria had retired and he was attending to patients illegally in the out patients’ department. “Today, our staff forced him to leave the hospital premises. We are looking into what kind of racket he was running, possibly in connivance with some of the doctors here,” Chowdhury said.

“We have served a showcause notice to one of the doctors, asking him to explain why he prescribed syrups that many of the patients did not require. We are trying to get to the root of the racket,” the superintendent said.

A large police force had to be called in to rescue the nurses and doctors on duty from the mob that assaulted them and smashed window panes and furniture following the doctor patient’s death. The assaulted doctors went in a deputation to the hospital superintendent, asking him to ensure “protection”.

“Advaita Charan De was admitted last night following a massive heart attack. The doctors here never got a chance to help him,” said Chowdhury.

De’s family said doctors did not attend to him and he was left to die on the floor. “The doctors told us to wait. He was gasping for breath and asking for oxygen, which did not come. After lying unattended for eight hours, he passed away,” said daughter Rita Chowdhury. The family vowed to take the case to health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra.

After retiring from the Indian Institute of Hygiene, Sungur, De was a popular physician in Ramkrishna Palli here.

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