MUMBAI: In a 16-year-old case, the Bandra magistrate's court has pronounced a senior Mahim gynaecologist guilty of medical negligence in a woman patient's death and sentenced him to three months' rigorous imprisonment. It also granted the family a compensation of Rs 25,000.
Sarasheej Shete, a railway technician, had accused Dr Sharad Gogate of negligence after his wife Sunita (34) died at his nursing home during childbirth in October 2000. The family alleged that the senior doctor , despite living only a floor above his nursing home, was not around in the most crucial hour when she suffered complications.
The order passed by additional chief metropolitan magistrate S M Chandgade comes 16 years after the family lodged a complaint with the Mahim police. The judge held that the doctor failed to exercise proper care and caution in managing the high-risk delivery. The magistrate also fined the doctor Rs 50,000, a part of which is to be given to the family as compensation.
Speaking to TOI, Dr Gogate (67) said he would appeal against the judgement in a higher court. "I cannot divulge any details of the case as the matter is sub-judice. We have appealed to the sessions court. I know that my conscience is clear," said the doctor, who has been practising for nearly 30 years and has delivered over 5,500 babies. Incidentally, Dr Gogate had also delivered Sunita's first child Shrika. Now 21 and completing her engineering degree, Shrika was five when her mother passed away.
"It is a big victory for us. I grew up without a mother. I still miss her every single day. No child should have to suffer the pain that I grew up with," Shrika said.
On October 22, 2000, Sarasheej had brought Sunita to Surlata Hospital, run by Dr Gogate, after she complained of mild pain in the abdomen and backache. The doctor, as per his statements recorded during investigation, was ready to discharge the patient as her due date was a good 10 days away. The family did not want to make her travel all the way to Mulund and asked the doctor to deliver the child.
The family alleged there were no doctors to monitor Sunita's condition after she was given medicines to induce labour. "A point came when she was vomiting and convulsing inside the OT and there was nobody but an ayah. I rushed upstairs to call the doctor who came down only after an hour. It was too late to save her by then," said Sarasheej. Dr Gogate had later called for two more doctors to salvage the patient, who gave her cardiac massage and intra-cardiac injection.
Dr Gogate, in his defence, denied negligence and said Sunita died of amniotic fluid embolism, a pregnancy-related complication, and not cardiac tamponade (compression of heart by fluid accumulation) as stated in the autopsy reports. A report by KEM Hospital's forensic department however had ruled out any amniotic fluid embolism and even said the life of either mother or child could have been saved with proper measures.
The family has also won a case against the doctor in the State Consumer Court, which granted them a compensation of Rs 20 lakh. The doctor has appealed against the order and the case is now with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.