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NHRC directions in case of newborn’s death after falling into dustbin in Maharani Hospital Jagdalpur

JSA had submitted a complaint to NHRC, along with the fact finding report of Human Right Law Network and all the media articles related to the case.of Soni Baghel https://everylifecounts.ndtv.com/after-delivering-she-says-she-had-to-wipe-her-blood-off-hospital-floor-

The Demands were

i) Monetary compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs to the family and a written apology by the State Government;
ii) Registration of FIR under section 304 IPC against the doctor and nurse on duty for their criminal medical negligence;
iii)Outcome of the enquiry/action undertaken by the State Government be made public;
iv) State Govt. to set up a Grievance Redressal Scheme where such victims can complain;
v) State Govt. to take adequate steps to ensure quality health care at all Government hospitals/Centres.

The state government in its August 2017 response to the NHRC quoted the enquiry report of the Additional Collector, Jagdalpur that stated, among other things, that the hospital management is responsible for the child falling into the dustbin.

The NHRC direction states: “Commission has perused the above report. The case presents a very sorry state of affairs. The State Government has not intimated what action, if any, has been taken on the report of the SDM which makes a pathetic reading. This is a clear case of gross violation of the human rights of the lady who had to undergo such pain and neglect whilst being in immense labour pains. On what counts the suspension of Doctor Jadhav has been revoked and what action has been or is being taken against the two staff nurses and one Ayah for their utter dereliction of duties is not intimated. Nothing has been stated as to what preventive measures have been or are being taken to improve the conditions of the Maternity Centre of the Maharani Hospital and per se all such centres across the State. When the SDM made certain recommendations, appropriate follow up ought to have been taken and intimated to the Commission. Let a notice under section 18 of the PHR Act be issued to Principal Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Chhattisgarh to show cause as to why an amount of Rs.1,00,000/- as monetary compensation be not paid to the lady victim for serious violation of her human rights at the hands of doctor the and two staff nurses on duty in the Maharani Hospital. Action taken on the report of the SDM against the criminal negligence of medical personnel be also intimated. It should also be informed as to what action has been taken by the State Government to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future. Response within four weeks”.

 The case details below

 

Soni Baghel (yellow sari) and Champa Kashyap (green sari), her mitanin at home in Billori village, Jagdalpur district, six months after Soni’s baby died.

Billori, Chhattisgarh: As she went into labour, Soni Baghel, who lives in one of Chhattisgarh’s poorest districts, wasn’t especially worried. She had delivered two babies earlier without any problem.  By her side, in the state-run health hospital was Champa, her mitanin (local women entrusted by the government to ensure the welfare of women and children in the village; they are paid  Rs 600 per healthy pregnancy).

When Soni was in the delivery room, Champa began to panic.  Nurses and doctors, she says, ignored pleas to stop talking on their phones or to each other and attend to her patient.

Champa says she began massaging Soni’s head to ease the excruciating pain. And before she could intervene, a baby girl emerged from Soni’s womb.  Without a pair of hands to receive her,  the baby’s umbilical cord snapped;  she slipped straight into a dustbin at the foot of the delivery table with a heart-stopping thud.

Champa says that the screams that followed brought a stream of doctors. They quickly lifted the baby out, and promised that nothing would happen to the child. She also says that after they cleaned and swathed the infant and brought her back for her first feed, the baby was bleeding profusely from her nose. She was taken away by the doctors and placed in the nursery, and helped to breathe through a tube. And 10 days later, the infant died.

Entrance to the Maharani Medical College General Ward.
Entrance to the Maharani Medical College General Ward where Soni’s baby died.

The lack of doctors and nurses, the ensuing medical negligence, the unavailability of beds or sanitation facilities at government hospitals and medical colleges is a grimly familiar story.

But in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, the crisis is even more acute with doctors unwilling to work in a conflict zone.

Jagdalpur is not in the heart of  where police and paramilitary forces are engaged in a bloody and violent war with Maoist insurgents.

Sulakshana Nandi who runs the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a non-profit healthcare organization in Raipur, says Soni’s tragedy has two equally reprehensible aspects- while the charge is of medical negligence, the dismissiveness of the hospital when she was in the final phase of labour indicates a basic lack of respect towards poor tribal women in the region.

Maternity Wing, Mahrani Medical College, Jagdalpur
Maternity Wing at Mahrani Medical College in Jagdalpur.

In Jagdalpur, Champa, furious with doctors who are trying to pass off their callousness as the mitanin’s carelessness, is trying to make the hospital accept its role.  Based on her statement and the testimony to the police of Soni’s husband, a fact-finding team that met the parties involved including doctors has said the  hospital is guilty of gross negligence.

According to the report, submitted to the Human Rights Law Network, when the baby was brought to be nursed minutes after being born, she had trouble breathing  and was bleeding from her nose, after the delivery, the doctors allegedly told Soni and Champa to clean the table and wash the blood off the floor.

The report also says complaints of rampant corruption and inhumane treatment of expecting women in the gynecological ward have been regularly flagged by both patients and the mitanin who accompany the women. For example, tribal communities have a tradition of burying the umbilical cord in a place of their choosing, and knowing this, the report says, families are made to pay a bribe of  Rs 500 for it.

On the basis of their report, the the Law Network, which is a collective of social activists and lawyers, wrote to the government urging action against the hospital and charging the concerned staff with culpable homicide.

That was in June. No action has been taken.  Senior hospital officials we spoke to said  the 10-day-old died from routine complications and infections including pneumonia, and denied any negligence on the hospital’s part. Champa says she has been harassed and threatened for pursuing the complaint.

Soni Baghel and her second born daughter at her home in Billori village.
Soni Baghel and her second born daughter at her home in Billori village.

Just days ago at Soni’s home in Billori, a cool breeze meant her entire family was sitting outside. Her two children were clamouring around her as she cleaned rice for the afternoon meal. Her mother-in-law, who speaks no Hindi, smiled at us widely and curiously.  Champa, who had taken us to meet Soni, was chatting with her former patient’s husband.

It is these sort of voiceless and largely powerless tribals who travel for basic medical attention to hospitals like the one where Soni lost her baby.  And without intervention, supervision and an investigation of their complaints,  their health -sometimes, their lives -remains at risk.

After Delivering, She Says She Had To Wipe Her Blood Off Hospital Floor

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Comment (1)

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    The criminal negligence of the hospital authorities should be probed by competent authority. The affected victims should be paid adequate compensation and damages

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