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Indian Express
09 September 2010
By Varinder Bhatia
Chandigarh, India

UT Legal Remembrancer’s report indicts several doctors, other medical staff of GMSH–16
"For negligence to amount an offence, the element of mens rea must be shown to exist. To prosecute a medical professional for negligence under criminal law, it must be shown that the accused did something or failed to do something, which in the given facts and circumstances, no medical professional in his ordinary senses and prudence would have done or failed to do so" the UT’s Legal Remembrancer, Sant Prakash, in his 29–page report, has nailed doctors and medical staff of the Government MultiSpecialty Hospital, Sector 16 in the Bulbul case.

Bulbul had delivered a child while standing in a queue at the OPD counter of the hospital, waiting for medical attention on July 21. The child died soon after her head hit the floor. The doctors had claimed the child was stillborn.

The UT Administration had asked the LR to ascertain each and every doctor and medical staff member’s criminal liability in the incident. Newsline accessed the 29–page report and the recommendations and elaborate roles of doctors and medical staff members involved are here as under.

Maya Devi (security guard); Parkash Rani (ward servant); Dharma Devi (OPD attendant) LR’s Recommendation: Registration of a criminal case for gross criminal negligence Role: The three knew well what kind of treatment is provided to patients like Bulbul; but instead of rendering timely help to the woman, who was already in labour, they made her move from one counter to another–a potentially dangerous situation for both the mother and child.

It was a reckless negligence on the part of these three, which led to the mishap. Had they acted with little bit of caution, the life of the newborn could have been saved. They deliberately blocked Bulbul’s way to get her examined in the labour room.

Maya Devi even asked Bulbul to move out of the room. Had Bulbul been allowed to stay in that room, the newborn could have been saved.

Dr. Veena Sarna, HOD (Gynaecology), Dr Usha Bansal (Medical Officer, Gynaecology) and Dr Praveena Dhiman (Medical Officer, Gynaecology) Recommendation: Registration of criminal case against Dr Veena Sarna for destruction of evidence Role: The three are indicted for perpetuating a system of authorising Group D employees to prescribe investigations and block the accessibility of the doctors to patients and not monitoring the life saving processes in the Labour Room by the Medical Officers in their departments, which was responsible for causing death of Bulbul’s baby.

Dr Veena Sarna visited Room No 151 and told Jagjit Kaur (pharmacist) for changing the time on the card, but Kaur refused.

The Inquiry Committee has recommended the initiation of criminal proceedings against Dr Veena Sarna and Dharma Devi for destroying material facts in the form of a missing Registration Card of Bulbul. It has come in the statements that Kanchan (lab technician) handed over the card to Dharma Devi. The original treatment card of Bulbul could not be traced thereafter, and it can well be presumed that both Dharma Devi and Dr. Sarna destroyed the card in order to save their own skin.

Lab Technician Kanchan Recommendation: Registration of a criminal case on charges of causing death due to medical negligence Role: The child was delivered in front of her eyes. It was her utmost duty to take care of Bulbul and the newborn; but she ran to room no 151 and tried to speak to someone on the tele phone. In the meantime, the baby died on the floor. It cannot be expected from a lab technician having one–year experience to behave in such an irresponsible manner.

Dr. Deepak Thakur, Paediatrics Surgeon; Dr. Rita Gaba; Dr. Vandna Recommendation: Registration of a criminal case on charges of causing death due to medical negligence against the three and another charge of tampering with records amounting to forgery against Dr Deepak Role: The three took two minutes to make up the story of Intra Uterine Death (IUD).The theory of IUD prepared by Dr. Vandna, Dr. Rita Gaba and Dr. Deepak Thakur has been falsified from the postmortem report and histopathology report, wherein it was confirmed that the child was born alive and had died on account of head injury. Dr. Rita Gaba became nervous after seeing the condition of baby.

Dr. Vandna left the baby in the Labour Room and came outside to call Dr. Deepak Thakur. The three did not provide standardised medical treatment (at least of 15 minutes duration) to the baby. Criminal proceedings may also be initiated against Dr. Deepak for tampering the medical record of Bulbul. There is a cutting on the treatment file of Bulbul, too.

No criminal liability made against four Dr Usha Bansal She was not present at the time of delivery of baby near the room of the lab technician. It was not in her knowledge that Bulbul was roaming here and there in the hospital for treatment. It was incumbent on her part to come out and to find out the details of occurrence. By any stretch of imagination, this lapse on Dr.

Bansal’s part can not be termed as reckless or negligent enough to bring her within the ambit of criminal liability. However, departmental proceedings can be initiated against her for negligence in performance of her duties as Medical Officer, Gynaecology department.

Dr Praveena Dhiman She was in emergency of Paediatrics ward and it cannot be presumed that the things would automatically come to her knowledge unless told by someone. She cannot be held responsible for criminal negligence, as she was on `Call Duty’ in the Labour Room and was not informed about the condition of the baby and was not at all called.

Deepshikha, Lab technician She was also negligent to some extent in anticipating casualty, but cannot be held liable for causing death. However, she can be proceeded against through the department.

Manju Arora, Counsellor, Gynaecology department She is not at fault for causing death by any of her acts, which can be termed as reckless and negligent.

Though she had seen Bulbul’s condition, she cannot be hauled up for negligence.

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