Cong cries foul as Amethi hospital shut over medical negligence

The Yogi Government suspended the licence of Amethi-based Sanjay Gandhi Memorial hospital, where a 22-year old woman died due to alleged medical negligence. The Congress however has dubbed the government’s move as ‘political vendetta’,  reports Mudit Mathur

Congress Party is up in arms over the way the Yogi government suspended the licence of Amethi-based Sanjay Gandhi Memorial hospital in Amethi where a 22-year old woman died due to alleged negligence in her treatment. Uttar Pradesh Congress has alleged that the state government’s action is the result of a ‘political vendetta’ even as he announced to launch agitation against the move.

In 1982, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had laid down the foundation of a 100-bed hospital in the memory of her son, Sanjay Gandhi, who was killed in a plane crash. The hospital has been operational in Munshiganj area of Amethi since 1989. The trust is being looked after under the chairmanship of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The Amethi police registered a case under section 304-A of IPC against the Chief Executive Officer Avadhesh Sharma and three other doctors for causing death by negligence filed by one Anuj Shukla who alleged that his 22-year old wife, Divya Shukla was hospitalised complaining pain and it was found in ultrasound test that there were stones in her gallbladder.

It is further alleged that she was taken to the operation theatre in a normal condition on 14 September, but due to overdose of anaesthesia, her condition deteriorated. The complainant alleged that the CEO of the hospital delayed her shifting to higher speciality centre in Lucknow for hours and in the end a team took the patient to Medanta, Lucknow, and returned immediately before her treatment could even commence there. It shows negligence on the part of doctors and management, it was alleged.

Taking cognizance of the incident, district health officials also ordered a probe and constituted a three-member inquiry team, led by Additional Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ram Prasad, and comprising Deputy CMO Dr P.K. Upadhyay and Anaesthetist Dr Abhay Goyal of District Hospital. Within 24 hours, on September 18, the hospital’s licence was suspended by district health officials, citing prima facie evidence of medical negligence.

A day before, Brajesh Pathak, Deputy Chief Minister who also holds the Health Minister’s portfolio, tweeted, “Taking immediate cognizance of the case of death of a female patient due to doctor’s negligence in Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, Munshiganj, Amethi, I have instructed CMO Amethi to immediately conduct a preliminary inquiry into the matter through a three-member committee.”

“On the basis of shortcomings found in the preliminary investigation, orders have been given to the hospital administration to issue a notice for clarification under the Clinical Act. After receiving the clarification, strict action will be taken against the hospital administration on the basis of merits and demerits and registration of the said hospital. Action for cancellation and sealing will also be taken. Orders have also been given to complete all the proceedings as soon as possible and the hospital administration has been prohibited to admit new patients,” Pathak said.

Chief Medical Officer (Amethi) Anshuman Singh said that while the hospital was served a notice seeking an explanation in three months, the decision to suspend the licence was taken after prima facie evidence of laxity was found in the preliminary inquiry.

Awadhesh Sharma, the hospital’s CEO, accused the CMO of not giving them enough time to explain the incident, claiming the decision to revoke the hospital license was taken “in haste”. “With the license of the hospital being suspended, all services provided by the hospital including emergency and OPD have come to a standstill.” Sharma alleged the hospital didn’t get a fair hearing and called the suspension of its licence an “act of political vengeance”. “This is a one-sided action on the part of the administration, and we will move the court against this,” he added.

“We are going to appeal against the decision in the court. We were asked for an explanation about the September 14 incident by the officials and were given three months’ time, but orders were issued to suspend the licence of the hospital in the next 24 hours. We are not denying the incident and there can be an inquiry into it. An FIR has already been lodged,” Wing Commander (retd) Manoj Muttu, the administrator of Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Trust, told the Tehelka.

“Twelve surgeries that took place on that day (September 14) and about 10 operations, mainly of orthopaedic, general surgery and gynae, take place every day at the hospital,” he added. “Such an incident could happen even in government hospitals. But to close down the entire hospital with 450 staff, 600 nursing students, 200 paramedic students, that too without affording any opportunity of being heard? Is that justified? Under what rule? Therefore, we are going to make an appeal,” Muttu said.

Meanwhile, Congress leader KL Sharma, while expressing sympathy for the family of the 22-year-old woman, severely criticised the government’s decision. “The law will take its course but the way the hospital was closed down is not right. The one who is guilty should be punished and not the entire organisation. The hospital has been serving the people of Amethi for decades and now a lock has been put on it. The hospital is not of the Congress, it caters to all,” Sharma added.

State Congress president Ajay Rai has sent a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, requesting to “immediately revoke the suspension of license”. “For the people of rural areas, this hospital provides cardiology, nephrology, gastro, dermatology, pulmonary, ENT, paediatrics among others as well as emergency services, blood bank… The hospital provides these services at nominal charge or free in some cases,” Rai wrote, expressing hope that the chief minister “with his positive direction would ensure that injustice is not done towards people of Amethi and the employees and doctors of the hospital”.

Deepak Singh, former Congress MLC, targeted Union Minister and BJP MP Smriti Irani over the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital’s registration being revoked. He said the suspension of registration was done at “short notice”.

“The way Sanjay Gandhi Hospital has been closed has made it clear that Smriti Irani has brought destruction in Amethi, not development (she represents Amethi in the Lok Sabha). Earlier, she closed down IIIT in education field and the Army Recruiting Office in the security sector. She also shut down many trains here. In the field of agriculture, she snatched away multiple projects. It is the health sector’s turn this time, and she has shut the hospital,” he alleged.

The Trust has now decided to knock the doors of judiciary against the alleged highhandedness of Uttar Pradesh government.