The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Docs showcaused for newborn ‘negligence’

Malda, Feb. 6: The Malda health authorities have served showcause notices on eight staff members of the district hospital, including three doctors, for having wrongly pronounced a newborn dead on February 1.

They have been asked to reply within 48 hours to the “negligence charge” levelled against them.

For more than 12 hours, the baby was kept aside in the labour room — mistaken for dead — without any postnatal care before relatives of the new parents Ripon and Chhabi Mondal found the newborn moving under the shroud. Family members of the Mondals then went on the rampage, ransacking the maternity ward of the hospital.

The baby, a boy, whose condition was stated to be serious, died the next day. The death sparked protests and the Congress and the Trinamul Congress stormed the chamber of the chief medical officer of health (CMOH) Radharaman Banik, demanding an inquiry and punishment for the guilty.

An apologetic Banik then ordered an inquiry committee, comprising deputy CMOH Saibal Banerjee, a gynaecologist and a paediatrician, to look into the allegations levelled by the Mondals, who had also filed an FIR with the Englishbazar police

“I have not received the report of the inquiry panel yet,” said Banik. “They (those showcaused), however, have to reply to the notice within 48 hours.”

Banik said department proceedings would be initiated only after the replies reached him. Utpal Moitra, Tapas Sarkar and Sayantan Gupta, the doctors who have been showcaused, refused to talk to The Telegraph.

The Englishbazar police have started a separate inquiry on the basis of Mondal’s complaint.

A tailor from Jalalpur village, 25 km from here, Mondal had admitted his wife Chhabi to the hospital on January 30.

Mondal alleged that ever since her admission, the doctors and nurses had been stressing that the condition of both the mother and the unborn child was “not satisfactory”.

On the night of January 31, Chhabi delivered a son after a Caesarean operation. Mondal had been asked to come back the next morning. When he visited the hospital around 9 am, the nurses told him that the baby had died and he should return after a few hours and complete the formalities with the ward master to claim the body.

It was only after they came back at 3 pm that some of the Mondals’ relatives sneaked into the labour room for a “last glimpse” of the child. They then saw the newborn moving under the shroud.

Banik had then said the doctor should not have told the ward staff that the baby did not cry after birth. “The ward master acted in haste,” the CMOH had said. The same day, Banik, while attending a convention of the district unit of Association of Health Service Doctors, had asked doctors to take “extra precaution” to arrest the “high infant mortality rate” in Malda.

The “casual approach” of the hospital had come under the scanner of health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, when he visited it a few days before the incident. He had then rebuked the superintendent of the hospital, Maniklal Das, for the state of affairs prevailing there.

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