LAHORE: A six-member committee of senior doctors that was constituted to investigate the death of a young woman and her newborn at Lady Aitchison Hospital has indirectly exonerated the medics by mainly touching on the reaction of her relatives and calling them “thieves”.

The patient’s family had flown into rage and reacted angrily to the news of her and newborn’s death, accusing the doctors of being negligent.

Nineteen-year-old Sumbal was brought to the hospital for her first delivery on Monday morning and she and her newborn died during the normal procedure. Her husband and other relatives claimed that Sumbal had no complication and doctors mishandled her case.

The health department constituted a committee comprising Obst & Gynae Unit-IV head Prof Dr Farhant Naz (head), Dr Muhammad Arshad Hussain, in-charge Obst & Gynae Unit-V, Assistant Professor Dr Iffat Naheed, Anaesthesia Department in-charge Dr Qayyum Ahmad Siddique and Mst Zakira Firdous, and it exonerated the doctors.

“No negligence was found regarding management of the patient on behalf of doctors,” the report declared. The patient was vitally stable and there was a plan to go for normal progress of labour. “She suddenly developed shortness of breath and on examination, patient was found cyanosed and suddenly lost consciousness. The pulse was not palpable and blood pressure not recordable,” the report stated.

The committee said when the duty doctors broke the bad news to the attendants, they went beside themselves and reacted angrily. The family barged into the labour ward and started yelling at and abusing duty doctors. “They entered the labour room and harassed the doctors by brandishing clubs,” the report said, adding that the doctors had to run for their lives.

They (attendants) also robbed the doctors of their bags and broke paraphernalia, the report said and concluded that “the doctors are innocent and all relatives of the patients are thieves”.

As soon as the committee informed the doctors of Lady Aitchson Hospital about the findings, they went on strike and even refused to accommodate the admitted patients. Eyewitnesses said all the health practitioners left the hospital leaving patients including pregnant women in trouble. A majority of them were later shifted to other hospitals by their relatives.

A senior gynaecologist, who spoke to Dawn on the condition of anonymity, said the committee seemed to have misused its mandate as it had largely probed the “reaction of the relatives” instead of focusing on their allegations. He said the report showed a lack of transparency in the absence of postmortem. He said the role of anaesthesia section in such cases was very important and inclusion of anesthetist of the same institute in the committee raised doubts about its credibility.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2016

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