Say they were booked under wrong section for negligence; police claim otherwise
The arrest of three doctors — Kusum Tamhane, Uttam Tamhane and Sanjay Ladkat —and nurse Manisha Gajanan Mandlik of the Sanjeevani Hospital in Gadital, Hadapsar has not gone down well with the medical fraternity in the city as well as in the state.
Agitated doctors even visited commissioner of police (CP) Rashmi Shukla on Thursday, demanding to change the section under which the arrests have been made.
The arrest of these doctors comes after a complaint filed by Phursungi resident Abhijeet Kadam. According to Abhijeet’s complaint, on August 4, 2016, his wife Vidya Kadam (30), who was suffering from lower stomachache, was taken to the hospital for treatment. He alleges that she did not receive the correct medical treatment resulting in her deteriorating health after which she passed away.
The police have arrested the doctors under Section 304(II) (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, the medical fraternity claims a wrong section has been booked and that the patient was administered a routine painkiller, but she did not respond to it. “The section under which the doctors have been booked is totally wrong. Earlier, through a court case, it has been ascertained that it is not the doctor’s intention to offer wrong treatment. Never before, this section was applied for any such case that I have heard of,” informed Dr Dilip Sarda, who is now one of the elected members in the Maharashtra Medical Council, and also a part of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). Sarda is a part of the delegation that had gone to meet the CP. The doctors had, therefore, visited the commissioner to get the case corrected.
When contacted, Dr Nitin Bhagali, chairman of the Pune chapter of the Hospital Board of India, said that if the police start applying wrong sections, then it would be difficult for doctors to practise. Bhagali lamented, “Some of the medicines can have side effects on certain people, and unfortunately the same thing happened with this patient. She was administered an intramuscular injection of diclofenac sodium — a painkiller very routinely used. However, she did not respond well to it. All the efforts were made to resuscitate her in the hospital, but she did not respond and therefore was advised to go to nearby Noble Hospital. But, she did not survive.”
Bhagali further said that as per the Supreme Court order in the Jacob Mathew Vs State of Punjab Case — which has laid down guidelines in cases of alleged medical negligence — it has been stated that Section 304A can be applied, which means causing death by negligence but unintentionally.
“While Section 304A is bailable, Section 304(II) is not. No doctor intends to cause harm to his/her patient and this arrest has triggered panic among doctors. We will subsequently have meetings with the police to raise awareness about these things since such cases are now increasing,” informed Bhagali.
The delegation that visited the commissioner’s office included several office- bearers and heads of various doctors’ associations. Moreover, state president of IMA Dr Ashok Tambe, too, came down to Pune from Baramati to tackle this issue. “We had with us a lawyer and head of IMA’s medico legal cell, who specifically studied the case. We spoke to the police, who have promised us that they would look into this matter. Accordingly, on Friday, this issue will also be discussed in the IMA meeting in Mumbai. The further plan of action depends on what is the outcome of the discussion,” explained Dr Tambe.
However, the police, on the other hand, claim that the patient was administered with the injection despite knowing that she was allergic to that particular painkiller. Inspector (crime) Anjum Bagwan of Hadapsar police station told Pune Mirror, “After we received the complaint, we had referred it to the panel of medical experts of the Sassoon Hospital. The report of the panel suggested that despite knowing the patient had an allergy to a particular drug, the doctors administered her with the painkiller, which resulted in her death. Based on that report, we have registered a case against the three doctors and the nurse under Section 304(II).”