A 34-year-old doctor has been booked for allegedly sexually assaulting a 44-year-old male patient of Covid-19 in the ICU ward of Wockhardt hospital in Mumbai on May 1 — the accused had joined the hospital just a day earlier.
Agripada police, however, said the accused has not been questioned or arrested due to fears that he may be infected by the coronavirus. Instead, they said, he has been placed in quarantine inside his home in an apartment block in Thane, and is being monitored.
The hospital, meanwhile, said it has sacked the accused. “The doctor was on his first day of duty, having joined the previous day. Following the receipt of information of misconduct and as per protocol, the administration immediately informed the police. The services of the doctor were terminated,” Wockhardt said in a statement Sunday.
Police sources said the accused, an MD who had completed his medical education at a Navi Mumbai medical college, had been recruited by the hospital on April 30, the same day when the patient was admitted. The alleged incident took place around 9.30 am on May 1 (Friday), they said.
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Police have registered a case under IPC sections 377 (unnatural offences), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of diseases endangering life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of diseases endangering life), based on a complaint from the hospital’s HR head.
“We have registered the case on the basis of what the HR manager has said in his statement. He told us that the accused was interviewed on April 28 and 29 following which he was hired by the hospital, and April 30 was his first day at work. He committed the offence on the second day,” a police officer told The Indian Express.
The complaint states that the accused entered the patient’s room in the ICU on the hospital’s 10th floor on May 1. It says the accused made physical advances that the patient tried to resist. “The patient raised an alarm when the doctor assaulted him and staffers who were stationed outside went inside the room,” said an officer.
The victim then informed hospital authorities about the incident. “The hospital took a decision to inform both police and BMC,” an official said.
“We have registered a case but we have not arrested the doctor. He came in close contact with the patient, so we suspect even he might have got infected,” said Senior Police Inspector Savlaram Agwane of Agripada station. “We are yet to take a statement from the victim and the suspect,” an investigator said.
A senior doctor from the hospital said it had to urgently recruit younger doctors after a policy decision was taken to keep those above 60 years old and with co-morbidities at home as a precautionary measure. “The hospital has hired a few younger consultants. This doctor was not known to many,” the senior doctor said.
Wockhardt hospital reopened on April 23 after being sealed for nearly a month when 80 staffers were infected with COVID-19. A BMC official said the hospital, a dedicated COVID-19 facility, has now opened up 30 beds to treat patients.
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