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Newborn dead, dad blames ants - Hospital orders probe, says charges yet to be established

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  • Published 29.08.11

Malda, Aug. 28: The father of a newborn who died in the district hospital here today has alleged that ants were seen in the incubator but the superintendent of the hospital said it had not yet been established if ant-bites led to the infant’s death.

The superintendent of the Malda district hospital, Himadri Kumar Anri, who has ordered an inquiry into the death, said the infant was born with complications and respiratory distress and had to be kept in an incubator.

“The parents have alleged that the baby died after being bitten by red ants. Ant bites can kill a newborn. In this case, whether this was the cause, we are trying to find out. We are also looking at whether there was any negligence on the part of the hospital staff. However, the baby had been suffering from respiratory problems and was kept in an incubator. We are investigating whether there were ants in the equipment,” the superintendent said.

The allegations of Deepa and Sanjit Saha, however, could not be verified because the couple failed to identify or name the attendant who had reportedly removed the ants from the incubator.

The Sahas have lodged an FIR with the Englishbazar police station against the hospital authorities and the on-duty doctor, nurse and attendant without naming anyone, saying that the baby has died from ant bites.

Police said Deepa was admitted to the gynaecological ward of the hospital on August 26 under Dr Ajit Dey. She gave birth to a girl under Caesarean section around 11pm the same night. The baby had been kept in an incubator as it had some complications and was suffering from respiratory distress, the police said.

Saha, who runs a fast-food joint at Netaji More, said their daughter was fine after birth. “Yesterday, around 10.30pm, I was told by my wife’s sister that red ants were crawling over the baby in the incubator. When I did not find any nurse around, I asked an ayah (attendant) and she removed the ants. This morning when I went to the hospital, I was told by the authorities that our firstborn expired around 3am. She died because of the negligence of the doctors and nurses.”

Malda police chief Bhuban Mondal said the allegations were being probed.

Woman and child development minister Sabitri Mitra, who is also the Trinamul MLA from Manikchak and the chairperson of the executive council of the hospital, said she had asked for a full report from the chief medical officer of health on the incident.

“I have asked both the district magistrate as well as the chief medical officer of health to submit a report to me. We will not tolerate such instances of negligence on the part of the hospital. It was only last week that a person’s severed legs were kept with him on his bed after he lost them in a train accident. All this is ruining the reputation of the healthcare system,” Sabitri said.