Inquiry clears MS in Srinagar hospital`s infant deaths

A year after public outcry against the high infant mortality rate in Kashmir`s only paediatric hospital, the inquiry officer appointed by the state government has given a clean chit to the then Medical Superintendent.

Srinagar: A year after public outcry against the high infant mortality rate in Kashmir`s only paediatric hospital, the inquiry officer appointed by the state government has given a clean chit to the then Medical Superintendent, who was charged with dereliction of duty.

There is nothing that lends credence to the charge of lack of supervision, dereliction of duties, negligence and lack of devotion on the part of Dr Javed Ahmad Chaudhary, the then Medical Superintendent," the inquiry officer, Bipul Pathak, an IAS, observed in his report submitted to the government last month.

The report listed several initiatives undertaken by Chaudhary during his four-month stint saying it showed that he had made sincere efforts to improve the patient care and functioning of the hospital.

"This clearly indicates his (Chaudhary`s) sincerity towards improving the conditions of the hospital during the short tenure of four months as medical superintendent of the Hospital," Pathak said.

Chaudhary, who was appointed as Medical Superintendent of G B Pant Children`s Hospital in January last year, was attached to Government Medical College Srinagar on May 17, 2012 following media reports and public outcry against "high infant mortality rate" at the hospital.

The inquiry report highlights that the infant mortality rate had, in fact, dropped from 14.49 per cent in January 2012 to 10.72 per cent in April 2012.

Although the death rate had increased to 16 per cent in February last year, Pathak observed that "it is clear that the mortality rate has shown a downward trend in the month of April. It does partially reflect that Medical Superintendent started exercising better supervisory role".

According to a report filed by present Medical Superintendent Dr Muneer Masoodi before the High Court last month, the overall death rate the G B Pant Hospital has risen to 5.4 per cent this year compared to just 3.85 per cent during Dr Chaudhary`s tenure.

The inquiry report deals in detail with the hygiene related issues and administrative issues at the hospital and, based on the documentary evidence, held that Chaudhary had "started in his new job with sincerity immediately after taking over".

The report mentioned that the concerned official had taken steps which led to creation of several new facilities for attendants of the patients at the hospital like toilet blocks, meal area and attendant shed within a short span of three months.

"This is ample testimony to show the dedication of Dr Chaudhary towards his role as Medical Superintendent," it said.

On the charge of non-utilisation of funds under Janani Shishu Surakhsha Yojna, the inquiry officer observed that the funds were made available to the Medical Superintendent on March 21, 2012 and "I feel it is harsh to ascribe non-utilisation of funds to Dr Chaudhary."

The inquiry officer also dismissed the allegation that the Medical Superintendent had not maintained proper record of deaths which took place at the hospital.

"The charge of acts of omission or commission cannot be established fully in the facts and circumstance as Dr Chuadhary did try to establish a system of maintenance of records in the hospital. It is also clear that lack of administrative capability and a time of four months available to Dr Chaudhary was not enough to institutionalise the system," the report said.

Pathak, in his report, has recommended inquiry against two senior doctors including then Principal of Government Medical College Srinagar over some incidents that reflected lack of coordination between faculty members at the college, different offices of the college and the Associated Hospitals.

"Once such example is that of Dr Kaiser Ahmad who was appointed as examiner in the exams where his niece was also appearing, against the statute of the university. In spite of Dr Chuadhary bringing this matter to the notice of the Principal, the Principal allowed him (Dr Kaiser) to conduct the exams," the reported noted.

According to rules, Dr Kaiser should have recused himself. The Principal should have removed the concerned faculty member from the examination when the matter was brought to his notice, it said.

"This is a very serious charge against Dr Kaiser Ahmad. It is recommended that a full fledged inquiry into this incident be conducted by the Administrative Department to bring out the truth about the role of Dr Kaiser Ahmad and Principal GMC and then take action if deemed fit," Pathak said in his recommendations.