mid-day editorial: Medical negligence cannot be mopped away

By  mid-day correspondent | Posted  10-Apr-2017

We have heard cases of medical negligence but this one seems to cross all limits. This paper had a front-page report on April 8, about a 37-year-old man who died days after a surgical mop was left behind in his stomach during an operation at a renowned Pune hospital.

The patient had undergone a surgery for a stab wound he suffered after being attacked by a neighbour in a fight. Post the operation, his condition deteriorated. He had reportedly contracted septicemia (blood poisoning). The post-mortem found the cause of death to be the presence of a foreign object (read: the mop). However, instead of acknowledging and starting an investigation, there was an attempt to hush up the matter.

What is shocking is the attempt to brush aside the matter instead of starting an intra-departmental inquiry at once, which will ascertain what has gone wrong from the hospital's side. Even if the family has not complained, this negligence needs to be probed within the hospital itself.

These kinds of cases and especially the attitude by the medical authorities widen the gulf between people and medical professionals. Recently, Maharashtra witnessed a doctor strike that pitted doctors against patients in black and white.

While doctors rightly protested against being beaten up and targeted by irate relatives of patients, it was a strong indication of mistrust of the medical community.

There have to be answers to questions or a willingness to get to the root of this and hold up a mirror, in a bid to find the truth. This attitude, where no information is forthcoming, communication is at a minimum and downright falsities are paraded as explanations is setting off people against the doctors. It is not too late to open an inquiry. The hospital authorities need to find their conscience and a great deal of courage to do so.

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