Calcutta, June 19: Instead of looking for the missing Ashis Chakraborty and reporting the matter to police, the authorities at the Medical College and Hospital waited for more than two-and-a-half hours for the missing patient to return.
Chakraborty went missing from the second floor at 3 pm yesterday, a fact that did not escape the notice of the staff. They were forced to admit this when the police turned up with the body hours later and confronted the authorities.
That the nurses on duty knew about Chakraborty’s disappearance since 3 pm came to light when Amit Rakshit, a sub-inspector at Jorasanko police station, questioned the ward staff in the presence of ward master Samir Shau after spotting an empty space on the floor of the CB ward where Chakraborty was admitted.
“It was around 7.45 pm when we asked a nurse why she didn’t lodge a missing complaint with the police when she and her colleagues knew that Chakraborty was nowhere in sight,” said Timir Bhattacharya, officer in-charge of the police station. “She shrugged her shoulders and told us flatly that she would do so now.”
The deputy superintendent of the hospital, A. Biswas, said the nurses must have been waiting for Chakraborty to return. “This is the usual norm for all missing patients,” he said.
“It takes quite some time before an absconding report is filed. The nurses would have to look into everything before deciding to go to the police. Yesterday, only after visiting hours ended at 6 pm did they find the time to take a count,” said Biswas.
Officially, the authorities are not willing to accept there was any negligence on their part. But the facts tell a different story.
Yesterday, the medical officer on duty at Emergency initially refused to admit that Chakraborty was from MCH. Even the sticker on his forehead — Ashis Chakraborty Fl (Floor) 2 — didn’t seem enough.
“The doctor on duty would just not accept Ashis as a patient of MCH. When my officer showed the sticker, the man shot back ‘You can wear it and go’ and then moved away in a huff. It was simply shocking — as if the police were at fault,” said Bhattacharya.
A round of heated deliberations followed and the “body” was finally accepted as an “unidentified case brought dead”, but not before the police were sent to the nearby School of Tropical Medicine to check if Chakraborty was its patient.
It was only after the hospital authorities accepted Chakraborty as a patient of MCH that a probe was ordered into the case of the missing patient. Headed by health secretary Kalyan Bagchi, the interim report was completed today and the report handed over to the state health department.
Other than pointing to some “flaws” on the part of the security guards, the rest of the staff have been let off the hook.