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Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctor under scanner for shift advice
- DM orders inquiry, brings back patient

Raiganj, July 31: The district magistrate of North Dinajpur has ordered a probe into an allegation that a doctor referred a woman requiring an appendectomy to a private nursing home saying that the district hospital where she was admitted under him was not equipped for the operation.

While operations at government hospitals are carried out free of cost, Dr Sanjay Seth had demanded Rs 5,000 for the appendectomy at the nursing home in Ukilpara.

On the basis of a complaint lodged by the patient’s husband, Answer Ali, who is also the district secretary of the RSP’s youth wing, the chief medical officer of health (CMOH) got Ajida Bibi re-admitted to Raiganj District Hospital last night. The complaint had been first lodged with district magistrate Sukumar Bhattacharyya who had informed the CMOH.

On the night of July 28, Ajida Bibi was admitted to the female surgical ward of the district hospital under Dr Seth with severe abdominal pain. Her husband said the surgeon told them the next day that she needed an emergency operation. The couple live in Angardighi village, 30km from Raiganj town.

“The doctor suggested that we shift her to a private nursing home because the district hospital was not equipped for such a critical operation. He said he would take Rs 5, 000 for the operation and this was besides the other expenses of the nursing home that we would have to incur. We agreed to his advice because we felt it was a matter of life and death and the doctor who was himself attached to the hospital said it was not equipped for the operation,” Ali said.

Dr Seth had himself called up the nursing home and booked a bed for his wife, Ali claimed. “We got her released from the hospital. She was admitted to the nursing home yesterday. But since I was worried about the expenses, I discussed it with my neighbours. They advised me to approach the district magistrate,” Ali said.

Around 9pm yesterday, CMOH Sudhanshu Sekhar Sahoo met Ali and told him that arrangements have been made at the district hospital for the operation. Sahoo had been accompanied by hospital superintendent Swapan Kumar Paul

The medical officers also said the operation would be carried out free of cost. Abida was re-admitted under Dr Somnath Chatterjee last night.

“I then lodged a written complaint with the CMOH against Dr Seth who was taking advantage of our helplessness to make some extra money,” Ali said.

The supporters of the Revolutionary Youth Federation, the RSP’s youth wing, held a demonstration in front of the offices of the CMOH and the hospital superintendent today demanding “exemplary punishment” for the accused doctor. District secretary of the organisation Mohammed Sarwardi said Ali had to mortgage his land for the Rs 10,000 that he thought would be required to pay for the operation at the nursing home.

“We will launch a movement to expose such greedy doctors. Such characters have been maligning all the sincere efforts of the government to reform the health sector Bengal. We want a thorough inquiry and exemplary punishment for the surgeon,” Sarwardi said.

The spokesperson for the Association of Health Services Doctors, Dhiman Pal, admitted that the district hospital was adequately equipped to carry out an appendectomy. “We shall not take the side of the doctor if the charge against him is proved,” Pal said.

The CMOH said a show cause notice was being served on Dr Seth. Moreover, an inquiry has already been started and disciplinary action will be taken if the charge against the surgeon is proved true, he said.

Seth, however, has denied the allegations. “It was the relatives of the patient who had insisted on shifting her to a better and cleaner facility,” he said.

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