The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe echoes Susmita’s father

Calcutta, Oct. 22: The probe report prepared by the state health department on the death of Susmita Biswas at SSKM Hospital confirms what her father, Samir Biswas, had been asserting so far: that negligence on the part of the hospital authorities led to his daughter’s death.

Twenty-year-old Susmita, a resident of Baguiati, was taken to the emergency department of SSKM Hospital last Friday at 7.30 am. She lay there unattended till around 4.30 pm and died. Her father had said all his pleas to the doctors to admit her and administer treatment went unheeded.

He had also said that finally, around 4 pm when it was decided to shift her to the new emergency ward, a group-D employee yanked the oxygen mask off his daughter’s face on the instruction of the doctor on duty. This, he said, led to his daughter’s death.

On Monday, Biswas, accompanied by his wife and son, had met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and narrated their harrowing tale at SSKM Hospital. Moved, Bhattacharjee had assured them that those guilty would “definitely be punished”.

At Writers’ Buildings today, Bhattacharjee said he had received a copy of the report and would decide on the next course of action only after discussing the matter with health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra.

“Mishra has gone to Dhaka and he is expected to return tonight,” Bhattacharjee said. “Let him return and then we shall decide what to do.” He refused to make any other comment.

However, the report prepared by the director of health services, Prabhakar Chatterjee, and the director of medical education, C.R. Maity, has confirmed that a group-D employee did, in fact, remove the oxygen mask from the face of a dying Susmita. More significant, this was done on the instruction of the doctor on duty.

Pointing out there was negligence on the part of the hospital authorities in treating Susmita, the report also states that the doctors on duty repeatedly ignored Biswas’ pleas to admit and treat his daughter.

The report also mentions that SSKM’s surgeon superintendent, Debdwaipayan Chattopadhyay, who was on leave on that day, should have informed the hospital authorities of his whereabouts so that he could be contacted in an emergency.

Biswas had said he was told that only the surgeon superintendent could allot a bed from the reserved quota. The hospital authorities could contact him only late afternoon when he came to the office and met Susmita’s father.

“There have been administrative lapses on the part of the hospital,” a health department source said. “The report mostly confirms what Susmita’s father had been saying,” the source added.

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