A 57-year-old man has been running from pillar to post for more than five years in West Bengal, seeking justice for the death of his only son due to alleged medical negligence. He says while he is ruined emotionally and financially, the guilty doctors have gone unpunished.
Raja, 16, was suffering from diarrhoea and was admitted to Shaktinagar Hospital in Nadia district on the night of September 18, 2005. After his condition worsened the next day, he was referred to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital late at night.
But after about two hours, doctors pronounced Raja dead. The world came crashing down for Anwar Mallick, Raja’s father.
“The doctors of Shaktinagar Hospital killed my child. Without observing due medical procedure they gave my child some medicines, particularly an injection called Safezone, which ultimately caused his death,” Mallick told IANS.
Dr Kunal Saha, a US-returned doctor, confirms Anwar Mallick’s claims.
“First of all, a person dying of diarrhoea is rare. I have seen all the prescriptions. The doctors were utterly reckless and negligent in treating Raja. Safezone can be given only after conducting a medical checkup to ensure if the patient’s body is in a condition to bear the drug. The injection was administered without such a test, which caused his death,” Dr Kunal Saha said.
Since the fateful morning of September 20, 2005, it has been an endless grind for Anwar Mallick.
“I lost my son, my shop, and I am on the verge of losing my land which I have mortgaged to borrow money. It seems I am chasing a mirage. My family is starving while the guilty are enjoying their lives. I am ruined and the day is not far when I will have to commit suicide,” said Mallick, before breaking down.
Nadia’s Superintendent of Police Sabyasachi Mishra told IANS: “Yes, a case of medical negligence has been filed against Dr Hiren Mukherjee and Dr K R Biswas. We are looking into the matter afresh after the court ordered a re-investigation. Since we do not have any conclusive proof, they have not been arrested.”
Repeated attempts to talk to the doctors proved fruitless. Dr Hiren Mukherjee disconnected after he was told it was a call from the media, while Dr K R Biswas did not take the calls.
Shaktinagar Hospital’s medical superintendent too refused to comment on the case when contacted by IANS.
Anwar Mallick met top district and police officials a number of times, but all he got were empty assurances. He then approached the state secretariat in 2010.
After making rounds of the state secretariat for over a year, Mallick on July 18 this year received a letter from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s office, which directed the district’s top most administrative authorities to look into the matter and take necessary action.
But the authorities are yet to act.
Mallick also possesses the report of the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) after the doctors were reported for negligence. The report says: “The accused doctors are hereby warned for their lackadaisical attitude. Penal measures may be taken in case of repetition.”
Dr Kunal Saha, who is also president of People for Better Treatment (PBT), an NGO fighting against medical negligence, told IANS: “The (WBMC) report is laughable, to say the least. I have repeatedly said the WBMC should have non-doctors on board, and then only guilty medical practitioners will be punished. A doctor will never go against another. The council is actually to save them and not punish them.”
Scores of victims of medical negligence crowd the PBT office everyday hoping to get justice. Dr Kunal Saha himself has been fighting legal battles for over a decade after his wife Anuradha died owing to the alleged negligence of some city doctors.
Dr Kunal Saha added, “The reasons for negligence are the absence of accountability and lack of continuing medical education (CME). Also the doctors in government hospitals are stretched beyond limit, which drastically erodes their efficiency.”
Anwar Mallick on August 2 received another letter from the chief minister’s office, which directed the district administration to expedite the investigation.
“The Nadia chief judicial magistrate’s court has ordered a reinvestigation into the matter. Police had earlier, instead of filing the charge sheet, submitted a final report stating there was no evidence to charge the persons complained of,” said Alok Mukherjee, Mallick’s counsel.
by Anurag Dey