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Infant Nashwa dies after remaining paralysed due to alleged medical negligence

April 23, 2019

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RELATIVES of Nashwa grieve on Monday.—Online
RELATIVES of Nashwa grieve on Monday.—Online

KARACHI: An infant, paralysed because of alleged wrong treatment at a private hospital recently, died during treatment on Monday at another private hospital, which prompted the authorities to set up a board of doctors for a proper examination of her body to ascertain the exact cause of death, officials said.

Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) spokesperson Anjum Rizvi told Dawn that owing to the alleged wrong treatment, the brain of nine-month-old Nashwa was badly damaged when she was brought to the LNH last Sunday. Doctors tried to save her life but her condition deteriorated and she passed away at 9.30am on Monday.

Her body was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

Board set up

The Sindh chief minister took notice of the death and subsequently the health secretary established a medical board comprising police surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi, senior lady medico-legal officer Dr Summaiya Syed and forensic expert Prof Farhat Mirza to conduct her post-mortem examination.

Dr Abbasi told Dawn that initially Dr Summaiya and he visited the baby’s home in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on directions of both the CM and the health secretary where they carried out initial proceedings. Dr Abbasi said the medical examination of Nashwa should have been done by the investigation officer of the police on the very first day, April 15, when an FIR was registered but it was not done for some “unknown” reasons.

Three employees of private hospital where the child was treated remanded in police custody

He said they persuaded the family to bring the body of the girl to the JPMC for a proper autopsy to ascertain the exact cause of death. Otherwise, the doctors would depend on reports of the LNH. The family agreed to their proposal and Nashwa’s body was taken to the JPMC, where the medical board conducted her post-mortem examination and samples taken would be sent to the Dow University of Health Sciences’ histopathological department to ascertain the cause of death. He said they had also called for records of both the Darul Sehat Hospital [where the child was originally treated] and the LNH.

Father’s appeal

Nashwa’s grief-stricken father Qaiser Ali while talking to the media urged the authorities to take steps to prevent recurrence of such an incident.

He said that if concrete steps were not taken to prevent such tragedies, reports like this would keep appearing in the media and officials would keep paying visits to the bereaved families, but nothing would change. Twin daughters of Qaiser Ali were admitted at the Darul Sehat Hospital in Gulistan-i-Jauhar for treatment of diarrhoea on April 6.

On April 7, Nashwa was allegedly administered an overdose of potassium chloride and that too not via a drip. Minutes later, her lips turned blue and she began having trouble breathing.

She was shifted to the intensive care unit of the hospital and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for 45 minutes, after which her breathing function was restored, and then she was put on a ventilator.

On April 12, when Nashwa was taken off the ventilator, doctors informed the father that she “may have suffered a brain injury” due to lack of oxygen supply to the brain that might have been a result of the CPR performed on her for 45 minutes.

Her CT scan was taken which revealed that due to lack of oxygen supply to the brain, the child’s hands, feet, eyes and mouth had been paralysed.

Later, she was shifted to the LNH for further treatment.

Sharea Faisal police station investigation officer inspector Aslam Mughal told Dawn that the police had already registered an FIR (354/2019) on a complaint of the baby’s father under sections 324 (attempted murder), 337 (Shajjah: causing hurt) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code. He said that after the death of the baby, now the police might add Section 322 or 319 of the PPC pertaining to unintentional murder or manslaughter.

Mr Mughal said that four staff members of the hospital, including a female doctor, had been arrested.

Suspects given in police custody

A local court on Monday remanded three employees of a private hospital in police custody in the case pertaining to the death of Nashwa.

Police claimed to have booked Dr Sobia, nursing in-charge Atif Javed, deputy administration officer Ahmed Shahzad and another employee, Agha Moiz, of the Darul Sehat Hospital over alleged wrong treatment of the child on April 7 that paralysed her.

On Monday, the investigating officer produced three detained male suspects before a judicial magistrate (East) at the end of their physical remand. Fourth suspect Dr Sobia also appeared in court.

The IO informed the court that Atif Javed and Ahmed Shahzad were detained on Sunday in a case under sections 324, 337 and 34 of the PPC registered on a complaint of Qaiser Ali at the Sharea Faisal police station.

The IO said that the detained suspects were required to be interrogated to complete the investigation and other legal formalities and asked the judge to grant their custody.

A prosecutor pointed out that the police had shown negligence in handling the case, as lenient charges were added against the suspects.

On the other hand, the complainant’s counsel contended that the police had released the female suspect on a personal bond and called for order to arrest her.

The counsel apprehended that important evidence might have been destroyed in a fire that allegedly broke out at the Darul Sehat Hospital two days ago and sought a direction for the IO to secure the CCTV footage of the health facility.

The court was also pleaded to direct the IO to add Section 302 (premeditated murder) to the FIR as the infant had died during her treatment at the LNH.

However, the judge observed that such a direction could be issued once the record pertaining to the child’s death was produced before the court.

The judge remanded Atif Javed and Ahmed Shahzad in police custody for three days and directed the IO to produce them on the next date of hearing with an investigation report. Agha Moiz’s physical remand in police custody was also extended till the next date of hearing.

The judge also remanded the female suspect in judicial custody for three days and allowed the IO to interrogate her in jail, as and when required.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2019