Neglect cry in newborn death

16 December, 2016

Ranchi, Dec. 15: A baby girl born last evening and who was hale and hearty till 9am today was pronounced dead an hour later at a private hospital in the capital, prompting her bereaved family to lodge an FIR.

A post-mortem is being conducted on the baby, born to A.S.R.P. Mukesh and Sandhya Sharma, under the supervision of a magistrate. A medical board has also been constituted. The autopsy report is expected in 72 hours.

Mukesh is a special correspondent with The Telegraph. He had admitted his wife to Orchid Medical Centre on HB Road yesterday as advised by her treating doctor Dr Rekha Debuka (who is not associated with Orchid). Sandhya gave birth to their baby girl at 3.35pm and Orchid paediatrician Dr Bhavya Kumar Jain certified the newborn as healthy.

The baby was breastfed around 7.20am this morning and all was well even when Dr Jain examined her around 9am. "A few minutes after the doctor left, I requested my father, A.V.S.R.N. Sharma, to call the nurse to help me breastfeed my baby again," Sandhya said after she was able to regain her composure.

According to Sandhya, the nurse held the baby and said her response was slow.

"The nurse got a stethoscope and checked my baby. She said my baby's heartbeat was slow and rushed her to the neonatal ICU. My father followed. All he was told was that they were trying to revive my baby. After an hour or so, the hospital staff told my father, who was anxiously waiting near the ICU, that my baby had collapsed," said Sandhya, who is recuperating in Room 307 at Orchid.

Sharma said: "I couldn't absorb the news. My granddaughter had been looking at me just moments ago. And now, I was being told that she was gone. There must have been negligence somewhere."

Anuradha Sharma, Sandhya's mother, said she couldn't believe it when doctors told her that the newborn had succumbed to cardiac failure.

Mukesh's parents A. Jagannath Rao and A. Anuradha were numb with shock. "The baby was delivered by Dr Debuka yesterday. Mother and child were doing fine. We were planning so many things - puja, functions, get-togethers. I am left with no good words for this hospital anymore," said Rao.

When the bereaved family sought an explanation from attending doctors and nurses on how the baby "collapsed", they said it was an "unfortunate incident and they had tried their best to save the baby". The hospital was unable to explain the sudden appearance of severe rashes on the newborn, which the family noticed when they got to see the body.

"The baby's lips were black and she had rashes on her body, besides needle marks on the neck," said Ganesh Reddy, secretary of nonprofit Citizen Foundation, who had come to the hospital to congratulate Mukesh and his wife.

Hriday Laxman Shukla, marketing head of Orchid, and its public relations officer Santosh Singh claimed "every possible thing" had been done to revive the baby.

"We admit that she was absolutely fine till this morning and that is why she was brought to the mother for breastfeeding. Our nurse went to check on her at quarter past nine and that is when they (family members) complained that the baby was not responding. The nurse rushed her to NICU," Singh said .

Asked if paediatrician Dr Jain had attended to the baby at the neonatal ICU, the public relations officer said, "Yes, we had called him immediately."

When this newspaper phoned Dr Jain more than once, different people who answered, said the paediatrician was not available. The hospital, too, did not facilitate a conversation.

OC Ramod Kumar of Lalpur thana, where the FIR has been lodged, visited the hospital. He quoted Orchid authorities as saying that the "baby died because milk entered her lungs while breastfeeding and she choked".

Following deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar's orders, the SDM's office deputed executive magistrate Shalini Vijay for the autopsy at RIMS.

"A medical board has been constituted for autopsy, which will be video-recorded," said Reddy.

Principal secretary (health) Sudhir Tripathi said if medical negligence was proved, it would be a serious matter. "And the law will take its own course."