Govt prepares to face oppn wrath over Bhandara case

The state public health department is doing everything it knows to save face and skin from the Opposition’s grilling during the state assembly’s ongoing session over the Bhandara case, which progressed from being a botched probe into three minor sisters’ unexplained deaths, to a thorough forensic disaster.

On Tuesday, T C Benjamin, additional chief secretary (public health) summoned Dr SD Nanandkar, professor and head of department of forensic medicine and toxicology at Grant Medical College, and Dr Harish Phatak, professor and head of the department at KEM medical college, to understand if there were procedural mistakes and negligence on the part of the five non-forensic doctors who performed the autopsies on the three victims at Bhandara General Hospital.

Dr Archana Patil, director, health services, also attended the meeting that lasted for over one-and-a-half hours, sources said. The experts were asked to explain what went wrong and how the grave errors could be prevented. They pointed out the areas where the panel of five doctors at Bhandara lapsed: the bodies should have been preserved in cold storage; the post-mortem procedure was not proper; post-mortem injures were explained as ante-mortem injuries; the post-mortem drowning justification given in the report was incorrect and so on.

Doctors questioned
Soon after the meeting with the forensic experts, Dr Patil rushed to Nagpur to meet health officials, and then to Bhandara to interview the panel of doctors responsible for the autopsies - Dr Bhavesh Gulhane (D Ortho), Dr C S Khobragade (DGO-gynaecologist), Dr Aparna Rangari (MBBS), Dr Pradeep Anand (ENT) and Dr Praveen Padole (physician).

After questioning them, she is to submit a report to Benjamin, additional chief secretary (health). The health department has also summoned Bhandara General Hospital’s civil surgeon Rushi Chahande and the lady gynaecologist Khobragade who helped conduct the autopsies, seeking an explanation. A report will be submitted to senior bureaucrats who would then brief the minister of health, before the matter comes up in the legislative session, in all likelihood on Thursday.

Report awaited
Dr M H Pawar, deputy director, public health, Nagpur, confirmed the development to MiD DAY. “We are roping in our team of doctors with an MD in forensics, and will seek opinion from forensic experts from Government Medical College and Indira Gandhi Medical College, Nagpur, to understand the errors committed by the panel of doctors at Bhandara General Hospital,” Pawar said.

“The doctors who performed the autopsy were directly dealing with the case. While experts have given their opinion on the basis of video recording,” Pawar said. Senior health officials said, “The doctors at Bhandara have given their findings on the basis of little expertise and understanding of forensic medicine. They are general doctors, not forensic experts. The report will be submitted soon and only then would a clear picture be in front of us.”

Directives will now be issued to ensure that two doctors from rural and general hospitals are sent for forensic training to the nearest medical colleges. Also, efforts will be made to ensure that every district has a forensic department and that all such sensitive cases are sent to a medical college, or assistance sought from forensic experts before autopsy. 

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