Cancer patient dies after wrong injection

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 10.07.08

A 37-year-old cancer patient whose condition had severely deteriorated following a “fatal mistake” in administration of a chemotherapy drug at a nursing home died on Wednesday morning.

Kuntal Chowdhury, a Birati resident and senior bank official, was diagnosed with cancer in his glands (diffuse large B-cell lymphoma) in February. He had been undergoing chemotherapy at Woodlands Hospital & Medical Research Centre.

He was admitted to the nursing home on June 18 for the fourth dose of chemotherapy. His relatives lodged a complaint with the state medical council alleging that an anaesthetist administered a chemotherapy injection into his spinal cord instead of a vein.

“We came to know that the injection can never be administered into the spinal cord. This was an instance of gross medical negligence. After this, Kuntal’s condition deteriorated quickly. He started vomiting uncontrollably and later stopped urinating,” said Subhasish Roy, the brother-in-law of the deceased.

A. Banerjee, the medical director and CEO of Woodlands, admitted administering the drug into the spinal chord was a “fatal mistake” and claimed that the nursing home and its staff were not to blame.

“The anaesthetist is a visiting consultant. We have launched an inquiry and will shortly decide on our course of action in this regard,” Banerjee said.

“We shifted Kuntal to a reputable hospital in Mumbai. Doctors there advised us to take him back to Calcutta. By that time, the lower part of his body was paralysed,” said Roy.

Chowdhury died in Belle Vue Clinic around 9.45am on Wednesday, said P. Tandon, the CEO of the clinic. He is survived by his 70-year-old father, 30-year-old wife and two-year-old son.

Roy said the family was considering moving the court. “We are too shocked to spell out our course of action. But we will knock on every door to punish the guilty so that no one suffers the fate of my sister’s husband,” he added.

Elaborating on the mistake, Banerjee said: “That particular drug should be administered intravenously and not into the cerebro-spinal fluid.”

Dilip Ghose, the registrar of the state medical council, said the allegation lodged with the council by Chowdhury’s relatives would be investigated with “utmost importance”.

“This is a grave allegation. Severe action will be taken against those proven guilty of medical negligence,” said Ghosh.

Another senior official of the council, however, said such investigations take months, and even years, to be completed.