Inquiry report finds horrifying details

Srinagar: The one-man probe panel investigating the infant deaths in valley’s premier G B Pant Children Hospital has found horrifying details, exposing the inhuman and criminal mind-set of hospital administration and drug mafia. The report says that the deaths were not only higher than reported earlier but hospital administration has fudged official records to hide the exact number of deaths.
A wave of shock and horror struck the valley in May this year after revelations of deaths of hundreds of infants in the hospital. The public outrage against the deaths forced the Jammu and Kashmir government to appoint a one-man probe panel headed by Professor Showkat Ali Zargar, Director of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) to investigate into the alarming deaths in children hospital.
The inquiry report says that the hospital administration has fudged the records and a number of neonatal admissions cards are missing from the hospital records. “The total number of neonatal admissions between January and May were 2219, but only 889 files were available in the hospital; the rest of files are missing. And out of the 889 patient whose records were with the hospital, 312 died, putting the neonatal death rate at 35.1 per cent”, says the report.
The main cause of the deaths is reported to have been the criminal nexus between drug mafia and corrupt doctors heading the hospital administration. The official record available in the hospital has put the number of infant deaths between January and May this year around 500. But sources privy to the report say that the deaths could be quite more as most of the infant admission cards have mysteriously gone missing. “The number is unreliable since the medical records have not been preserved in the hospital and 60 per cent admission files in the hospital are missing. The estimates, based on available case files, reveal the horror: The neonatal death rate has been 35 per cent between January and May this year,” says the report.
The inquiry report reveals that junior doctors were allegedly forced to prescribe medicine from substandard and unknown drug companies by former medical superintendent of GB Pant Children’s hospital. The neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where critically ill newborn babies are admitted, was in pathetic condition. Infectious and dirty ventilator pipes were being used and reused on neonates for months together. And the oxygen pipes were filled with dirt. The administration has now sealed the medical shop inside the hospital premises that was believed to be the source of the drug racket that has already claimed lives of hundreds of new born babies.
Former medical superintendent Dr Javed Chowdhery, who has since been attached, is reported to be at the centre of the ‘crime’. The doctors who have deposed before the inquiry commission have alleged that when they would prescribe medicines from standard companies, it was changed and they were then humiliated by hospital administration. They alleged a nexus between the drug mafia and Dr Chowdhery. The report says 30 resident doctors who were under the direct control of Dr Chowdhery, were prescribing spurious drugs to patients under his orders.
The investigations have led to exposure of another kind of corruption in the hospital. The junior doctors and those pursuing MD were made to pay hefty amounts of money to the examiners. One of the doctors Suhail is reported to have said: “When we went through the Doctor of Medicine (MD) examination, we were told that the external examiners came to Kashmir from different states and we have to give gifts to them. They said you can’t give gifts in hundreds or thousands; you have to give a hefty gift to them. I was a victim of the same crime and money was taken from me and also from my other friends,” said Dr Suhail, a Paediatrician. Another doctor Basharat said that he was told “you want to hit the wall. You want to bang your head, but there is no way out. There is no route to escape and you have to abide by certain things which the higher authorities tell you. It is difficult to prescribe a drug from only one particular company, but there was no way out”.
Dr Chowdery, however, is reported to have denied allegations of corruption in his reply to the inquiry commission. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is yet to receive a copy of the probe report. He, however, assured that action will be taken against the guilty once the investigative agencies fix the responsibility. The Chief Minister also said he will send the copies of this report to the state vigilance organisation and accountability commission.

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