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Times of India
23, February 2010
Nagpur, India

Negligence on the part of the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) has cost 21–year–old Durga Kale one of her twin boys while the condition of the second is very serious.

The boy succumbed to burns caused due to excessive heat from a hot air–blower placed near the cradle in the paediatric award. The doctors are struggling to keep the other boy alive as both were born prematurely four days ago.

In a more serious related development, the babies were delivered by a doctor, Rashmi Deshmukh who is an associate professor at the GMCH and hence not permitted to practice in private as per government rules. Though Dr Rashmi insisted that she has the necessary permission, the GMCH dean Dr A Niswade told TOI that she “was practicing illegally”. “Dr Deshmukh is claiming non–practice allowance which is an indicator that she cannot practice,” he said.

In another statement which could have far–reaching ramifications, Dr Niswade added, “I know that many GMCH doctors carry out illegal private practice but I cannot do anything about it.”

The babies were delivered at NKD Hospital which is run by Dr Rashmi’s father, Dr NK Deshmukh who is a former dean of the Indira Gandhi Government Medical College.

“The operation was conducted by me and Dr Bhagyashri Shroti under the supervision of my mother Dr Meenakshi,” Dr Rashmi told TOI. “The babies were born underweight and required oxygen, and other life support system.”

Durga is learnt to have gone into ‘psychosis’ after her babies were separated from her. She is not even aware of the boy’s death and the family does not intend to tell her anything yet.

All efforts to save the infant in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), after the doctor on duty noticed the burns at around 11.30am on Sunday, failed. The baby was declared dead at 10.15am on Monday.

The state medical education minister Dr Vijay Kumar Gavit, who visited the ward on Monday afternoon, has announced an inquiry into the incident. “The guilty will be punished,” he said.

While admitting that it’s a case of negligence at some level, Dr Niswade said that the GMCH had a severe staff crunch at all levels and that the doctors and nurses were overloaded with work. “However, there can be no excuse for the death,” he said.

According to lecturer on duty in the ward Dr Urmila Chauhan and staff nurse Durve, the unit head Dr Dipti Jain took a round of the ward at around 9.30am on Sunday. Noticing that the baby was completely soaked in urine, Dr Jain instructed the nurse to clean and dry the baby, and place a heat blower near the cradle as the other two radiant warmers, which are fixed overhead, were already in use.

After following the instructions, Durve claimed she had to rush to another ward on emergency. Now, there was only one nurse on duty to take care of seven babies in the neonatal unit.

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