Senior medics found guilty of babies’ deaths at Jhang hospital

Published November 2, 2019
The report also pointed out the dismal treatment facilities to the other newborns at the nursery. — AFP/File
The report also pointed out the dismal treatment facilities to the other newborns at the nursery. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Seven critically ill newborns died at the Jhang DHQ Hospital nursery in one week allegedly due to negligence on the part of senior doctors.

This came to light in a “confidential official report” compiled and submitted by the Jhang chief executive officer (CEO) to the primary and secondary health secretary on Oct 31 for strict action against the guilty medics.

The report also mentioned the names of the children and date and time of their deaths stating that the doctors supposed to be on duty were not present at the hospital at that time. It revealed that when the senior doctors were asked to reach the hospital to attend to the critical newborns, they did not respond to the calls. Consequently, the children died in the nursery. “The babies expired due to non-availability of timely consultation of specialist doctors during Oct 23 to Oct 30,” reads the official report.

Doctors accuse inquiry officer of harassment; health secy forms probe body

Haseeb Amir and Wajeeha Zahid died on Oct 24, two other newborns on Oct 29 and three, including Aqsa Imran, on Oct 30.

The report also pointed out the dismal treatment facilities to the other newborns at the nursery stating that the head of the paeds department, Dr Aiba Yaseen, has not visited the unit in the last eight months. “Dr Aiba Yaseen never visited the paeds department of DHQ Jhang during last eight months in any shift and never deputed any senior doctor in the evening and night shift in spite of repeated requests by the medical superintendent of the hospital,” reads the report.

The CEO reported that most of the ad hoc or other medical officers or house officers were deputed at the paediatric ward without the supervision of senior doctors.

According to the report, the CEO visited the paediatric department along with the MS on Oct 23 and found a baby critically ill there. The specialist, Dr Nasir Abbas, was called to attend to the patient, but he did not respond to the calls. He again visited the unit on Oct 25 and found three babies in critical condition. The specialist, Dr Muhammad Arshad, was called, but he did not respond either. During the CEO’s third visit on Oct 28, Dr Faisal Haneef was contacted to attend to a baby who had been admitted for critical care, but he too failed to answer the calls, the report stated.

“The above situation shows the alarming situation/callous behaviour of specialist doctors of the paeds department of DHQ Jhang that was witnessed by the undersigned along with MS of the hospital and required action against them accordingly,” concludes the report.

As soon as the report reached the health department, the duty medics held guilty levelled allegations of harassment against the inquiry officer – the Jhang CEO. Young doctors announced a strike at the hospital while backing the allegations by their colleagues of harassing female medics.

Primary and Secondary Health Secretary retired Capt Muhammad Usman said that he had constituted an inquiry committee of senior health officials as well as medics to re-examine the case of death of seven babies.

“Apparently, the CEO’s report, which was compiled in the presence of the MS of the DHQ hospital, was sufficient to take strict departmental action against the medics held guilty of charges,” Mr Usman told Dawn.

However, as the young doctors levelled allegations on the inquiry officer to counter the report, he had constituted a high-profile committee that will visit the hospital on Saturday (today) to probe into the matter, he added. The secretary said that further action would be taken in light of the inquiry report of the visiting committee.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019

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