Father fails to pay Rs 200,docs refuse life support to 3-day-old

Negligence Infant dies at Jalandhar Civil Hospital,panel finds hospital record fudged

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | Published: July 27, 2012 2:43:44 am

Negligence Infant dies at Jalandhar Civil Hospital,panel finds hospital record fudged

In a shocking incident,the doctors at a government hospital in Jalandhar allegedly refused to provide life support system to a three-day-old girl — who later died — after her father failed to pay a paltry sum of Rs 200 for treatment,the family members claimed on Thursday.

The victim’s father Sanjeev Kumar,a daily wage labourer,accused the staff of the Jalandhar Civil Hospital of refusing to shift the infant in the incubator where she was put for four hours everyday after being born premature on July 22. He claimed that the child died at 4 in the evening. However,the hospital,which has recorded asphyxia as the reason of the infant’s death,mentioned the time of death as 7.30 pm. “My wife Anita gave birth to a girl here. The child was diagnosed with jaundice and later shifted to emergency ward. She was put on life support. On Wednesday night,the hospital authorities told me to deposit Rs 200 as the electricity charge needed to run the incubator. I was unable to pay the money. Later,they refused to put her on life support system,resulting in her death last night,” Kumar alleged.

The daily wager,who earns a living taking odds jobs of white-washing building,said he even sought time from the hospital authorities to arrange for the money.

“I begged them (hospital staff) to keep the baby inside the incubator and requested for time to arrange the money. But they didn’t listen and repeatedly told me to deposit the requisite fee,” Kumar added. He also alleged that even the saline drip being administered to the infant was removed for non-payment of dues.

A hospital staff,requesting anonymity,said that the child was being kept in the incubator or warmer and in photo therapy machine (for jaundice) every day for some hours,but on Wednesday the staff didn’t put her on the life support as the father could not pay the fee.

An inconsolable Anita,30,mother of the child,told The Indian Express at her Santokhpura residence that she breastfed her daughter early on Wednesday morning.

“Later,around 800 am,the hospital staff gave the child an injection,following which,her condition worsened. After this,I tried to breastfeed her several times,but she did not,” Anita said. Following this,she and her husband requested the hospital staff to shift the child into the incubator.

Anita alleged that the hospital did not even provide her with an ambulance to go home even when she complained of weakness.

“I had to walk nearly 5 km from the hospital,” Anita said.

The family members also claimed that the staff called the security guards at the hospital to push them out after the death of child,as the parents raised the issue of negligence on doctors’ part.

However,the hospital staff,in a statement,said that Anita was careless and used to feed her baby while lying down,leading to the infant’s death due to asphyxia.

When contacted,Medical Superintendent Iqbal Singh said he was not aware of the incident as he was out of station,but “tough action will be taken against the guilty”.

Meanwhile,the state government has constituted a high-level committee comprising Additional Deputy Commissioner Parneet Bhardwaj,Sub-Divisional Magistrate Nakodar Sumeet Jarangal,Civil Surgeon R L Bassan and medical officers — Sangeeta Kapoor and Jaswinder Kaur — to look into the allegations of negligence against the hospital staff. They have been asked to submit a report within three days.

State Health minister Madan Mohan Mittal has also directed Director (Health Services) Karanjit Singh to probe the matter.

“I am shocked if this has happened. We have ordered a probe into the matter. Such incidents cannot be tolerated,” Mittal told mediapersons in Chandigarh.

Hospital records tampered with: Probe team preliminary investigations carried out by a probe panel formed by the Punjab government has found that hospital records were fudged. “Apart from negligence and callousness on the hospital’s part,it has been found that some of the records have been tampered with by overwriting,” Additional Deputy Commissioner Parneet Bhardwaj,who is heading the probe team,said.

The hospital staff told the inquiry team that they had asked the parents to deposit Rs 200,as the daily fee for the photo therapy unit was Rs 25. He said that though the cause of death could not be ascertained,the doctors at the hospital claimed that the child died due to asphyxia. The hospital has mentioned the time of death at 7.30 pm as against the mother’s claim that the three-day-old child died at 4.00 pm.

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