Mumbai: Grieving parents get no justice as JJ delays post mortem report by a year
Mandar Mahajan, and Vrushali lost their one-month-old child Maitreyee in July 2016
It has been a year since the Mahajan family lost their one-month-old baby due to the alleged negligence of a private hospital in Dombivli. And now, they are being denied justice due to the negligence of the biggest state-run medical facility, JJ hospital.
About a month-and-a-half after Pune residents Mandar and Vrushali welcomed their first-born child, Maitreyee, they had to rush her to ACE Children's Hospital in Dombivli on July 15 with a cardiac issue. Two days later, the child breathed her last. For the past year, the parents have been unable to file a medical negligence case because JJ Hospital has failed to provide the histopathology report in all this time.
"On July 15, my child suddenly developed breathing problems and we admitted her to ACE hospital. The X-ray showed that her heart had enlarged and she needed a paediatric cardiologist but no one came. On July 17, when her condition deteriorated further, they called a paediatric cardiologist who advised us to shift to a bigger hospital. By then it was too late, and my child died," recalled Mandar.
After the infant's death, a written complaint was filed at Manpada police station. The post-mortem was conducted at Rukmini Bai Hospital in Kalyan, and samples of her tissues were sent to JJ hospital for histopathology on July 17. A year later, JJ is yet to issue a report on the histopathology, which normally takes no more than 4-6 weeks.
An inquiry with JJ revealed that they haven't even opened the sample packet for analysis. This, after repeated reminders were sent to the hospital by the Manpada police station.
Investigating officer, Assistant Police Inspector J Bhoir said, "We have sent repeated reminders to JJ hospital but they haven't sent us the report of the histopathology. In fact, we sent a constable to the hospital today as well. If they don't send us the report, what can we do? In fact, the Thane civil hospital is not providing us their report. We are also helpless."
Shielding the hospital?
"Why would they delay the report if they don't have any personal interest in protecting the hospital?" asked Mandar, who also wrote to the Ministry to Health and Ministry of Family Welfare.
The report is crucial because, in medical negligence cases, an FIR can only be filed when a panel of medical experts from a government hospital confirm there is merit to the complaint. A year after sending the findings of the initial reports from Rukmini Bai Hospital to Thane Civil Hospital, the panel of experts haven't given a verdict. "Only after getting the reports, including histopathology, can the medical panel conclude their findings," said civil surgeon Dr K Patil from Thane Civil Hospital.
Experts said that the Mahajan family can approach the Medical Council of India to file a complaint of negligence against JJ hospital. "Any delay is bad as it can jeopardize the samples and critical witnesses can be transferred. A delay of one year just to get post-mortem report is unacceptable," said an expert who often heads such inquiry panels at a BMC-run hospital.
Dr Harish Pathak, HOD of Forensic Medicine, KEM Hospital, said, "It generally takes 4-6 weeks to get the reports of histopathology, one year is too long. If police want, they can take the samples from JJ and give it to KEM. We will provide the report in weeks," he added.
Dr Ulhas Kolhatkar, director of ACE Children's Hospital said, "The child was suffering from a serious and rare heart condition where the chances of survival were limited at such an age. The child was brought very late, when her condition was serious. We also called a paediatric cardiologist who examined her. Her condition was so severe that there was no time to transfer her. Parents in such cases become very anxious and make such allegations but we did our best," said Dr Kolhatkar.
Impossible, claims JJ
"It takes more than six weeks for the analysis. It is not possible that the report hasn't been sent in the past year, as we don't even maintain the records for so long. There may be problems with the documents submitted by the police. I will look into the matter," said Dr TP Lahane, Dean of JJ hospital.
No. of weeks it takes to process and issue histopathology report
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