Doctors ignore test, baby born crippled

NEW DELHI: Delhi’s premier Moolchand Hospital repeatedly misled a woman into continuing with her pregnancy when she wanted to terminate it after a previous ultrasound test in Imphal gave an early warning that her foetus had a “grossly shortened lower left limb”.

On May 18, the mother delivered a physically challenged baby in Moolchand, ringing true the warning issued by a diagnostic centre in Imphal.

Jenita and her husband Mahendro, a couple from Manipur working in Delhi, had been consulting gynaecologist Bandana Sodhi. Jenita had been taking regular ultrasound tests in the department of fetal medicine under Dr Bhavna Anand during her sixth, 10th, 12th, 17th, 19th and 31st weeks of pregnancy. Except the 17th week pregnancy, all other ultrasound tests of the foetus were carried out in Moolchand Hospital.

Jenita took the 17th week ultrasound test at Babina Diagnostics in her hometown Imphal on December 20. The inference had a clear warning — “Single foetus, 17 weeks 6 days of GA, EDD 23-5-2016 with grossly shortened left lower limb”.

Shocked by the finding, Jenita and Mahendro decided to terminate the pregnancy after taking a second opinion from her regular gynaecologist in Moolchand. She took the ultrasound in Moolchand on January 2, when the foetus was 19 weeks and 6 days, still a safe period both medically and legally for the mother to undergo medical termination of pregnancy.

In her ultrasound report, Dr Anand clearly mentioned that both lower limbs were perfectly normal and that there was no abnormality with the foetus. Relieved, the couple went ahead with the pregnancy and looked forward to a healthy baby. “The doctors laughed at Babina Diagnostics’s ultrasound report, probably hinting at its professional incompetence,” Jenita recalled.

On May 18, Jenita gave birth to a baby boy through Caesarean section. Expectations of joy turned into deep sadness as the parents found the newborn with a grossly shortened left leg. The challenges that await the baby dawned on them because of the callous negligence of doctors.

Jenita and Mahendro complained to the hospital on May 18. “The two doctors mentioned in the complaint always lied to us at all stages of pregnancy that the baby was fit and normal. Hadn’t they misguided us, we would not have had a crippled baby today,” they said and demanded action against the doctors and sought adequate compensation to secure the baby’s health care expenses and future.

To TOI’s query, Moolchand Hospital said it had conducted an inquiry into the matter and found no medical negligence or deficiency of service. But the clean chit to the doctors was mainly by taking refuge in the fine print, which at the end of every such report says, “Not all malformations can be detected on ultrasound”. Surprisingly, the inquiry by the hospital committee was concluded without meeting the couple even once.

Dr Bhavna Anand told TOI, “Jenita, her husband or her referring doctor (gynaecologist Dr Sodhi) never told me about the pre-diagnosis. If they would have discussed the report before hand, whole scenario would have changed.” Jenita said that was incorrect as she had discussed the Babina Diagnostics report with Dr Sodhi and Dr Anand. 

Dr Anand further said, “Secondly, ultrasound machine is a diagnostic tool like X-ray or CAT scan with its own limitations depending on machine pickup, baby position, previous surgery or scars on abdomen and various other factors. These limitations are well known in all world literature and written in all our reports. If any anomaly is missed, then its not due to doctor negligence but the limitation of technique. Limb abnormalities which are severe enough are reported to be missed in world literature in up to 25% cases.” 

The mounting bills at Moolchand for upkeep of the baby forced the parents to withdraw the child on May 23 and admit him to Holy Family Hospital in Jamia Nagar. Mahendro is determined to get justice. He went to Lajpat Nagar police station and filed a complaint against the two doctors and Moolchand Hospital on May 23. The police have not yet intimated him about any action initiated on this shocking case. 

Mahendro and Jenita said they would move every possible grievance redressal forum including the consumer forum and National Human Rights Commission.

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