Panel No proof against doctor in Govandi infants death

03 December, 2016

The committee investigating the death of an infant boy from Govandi, whose parents said the baby died after a doctor allegedly refused treatment as the family had the scrapped Rs500 notes to pay the bill, said there was not enough evidence to prove medical negligence.

The three-member group of experts from the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) said that punitive action, if any, against Dr Sheetal Kamath will be decided by the director, DHS.

“The CCTV footage from the hospital that showed both the parties and staff of Jeevan Jyot hospital didn’t have audio, owing to which we are unaware of the conversation that took place between them,” said Dr BD Pawar, joint director, DHS, and head of the investigating committee. Pawar said that even if the video footage had an audio, they cannot make recommendations based on it as they do not have the expertise to analyse video footages. 

“It’s the job of the police to investigate the video footage because it has to be confirmed that the voices recorded belong to the person seen in the footage. It’s a technical issue. Secondly, refusing to accept the payment and charges of medical negligence causing death are two different issues to be investigated,” said Dr Pawar. 

The team questioned all the involved parties, including the staff members and doctors of Jeevan Jyot Hospital, the baby’s family and local physicians who visited the child at his home on two different occasions after he was brought back from Jeevan Jyot hospital. “There are no recommendations made, the report only has statements of all the stakeholders and our findings about the line of treatment given to the child,” said another member from the team. 

Dr Satish Pawar, director, DHS, said that he is yet to scrutinise the report and come to a conclusion on whether the case accounts for medical negligence leading to death of an infant. “I’ve been out of the city for professional priorities and will soon return to analyses the evidence, compiled by the team. Only after that I will submit my recommendations to health ministry and in case I need more evidence, the team will carry on the investigations,” he said. 

Medico-legal experts on the other hand, citing a 2009 Supreme Court judgment on death due to medical negligence, said the doctor is unlikely to face conviction as the hospital had merely referred the critical newborn boy, sighting unavailability of a NICU to attend the child.