Police were in a hurry to declare man dead: Dean of Sion Hospital
A day after a ‘dead’ man woke up just before his post-mortem at Sion Hospital, the doctors and police blamed each other for the gross negligence that had led to the patient mistakenly being declared dead.
While the police squarely placed the responsibility on the doctor who attended to the patient, the hospital said it was the cops who had put pressure on the doctor to do a rushed job, as they were supposed to go for bandobast duty for the prime minister’s visit.
In a front-page report yesterday, mid-day highlighted how the police had taken a 45-year-old man to the hospital, where a doctor pronounced him dead merely by checking his pulse. The man, however, was very much alive and woke up in the mortuary (‘Man rises moments before post-mortem’).
The Sion police placed the blame for the error on the doctor who had checked the patient. They said that the doctor had not even bothered to take the patient inside the casualty ward and check him there, and declared the man dead after a cursory pulse check.
Hospital dean, Dr Suleman Merchant had also admitted to mid-day that the doctor had failed to keep the body in the ward for a mandatory observation period of two hours, called the cooling down period, during which there is still a chance of revival.
The day after the incident, however, the dean told this reporter that it was the police that had insisted on a rush job, asking the doctor to quickly certify the death, as the cops had to rush for bandobast duty for PM Narendra Modi’s visit.
“Around 10-12 policemen had brought the patient, informed the doctor that he was dead and asked him to certify the death. The policemen were in a hurry and said that they had to go for the PM’s bandobast,” said Merchant.
He added, “The condition of the patient was another contributing factor for the doctor’s confusion. He found no pulse, no heartbeat, the patient’s pupils were dilated, there was an odd stench emanating from his body and in his ear, there were maggots, which are usually found in decomposed flesh. Already under pressure from the police, the doctor didn’t follow the procedure of waiting for the cooling down period, and certified the patient dead.”
He also added that it was the policemen who hadn’t let the doctor take the patient inside the casualty ward, where he could have conducted an ECG to better examine the patient. “According to me, the only mistake the doctor committed was to not take the patient inside Casualty and follow the cooling down procedure, due to which this incident took place,” said Merchant.
On the other hand, DCP (Zone IV) Ashok Dudhe said that the cops who had taken the patient to the hospital were part of a patrolling team and had no relation to bandobast duty. “All the allegations are false and everyone knows about it. We are no authority to declare anyone dead. No cop will interfere in the work of a doctor. The man’s condition was very serious, why would we interfere? We wasted no time in taking him to Sion Hospital. Why would we put pressure to declare anyone dead? It was just negligence on part of the doctor,” Dudhe said.
Another cops said that the PM’s rally was at Bandra-Kurla Complex, which comes under Mumbai Police’s Zone VIII and western region branches, while Sion Police holds jurisdiction in one IV. “Instead of accepting their fault, doctors of Sion Hospital are blaming cops to save face. The doctor had even torn the death intimation report and erased the entry in the casualty ward diary,” said the official.
‘Saved his life’
The dean said he is conducting an inquiry into claims that the doctor had shredded the records and said, “I am not sure about this issue, but even if it’s true, it’s idiotic on the part of the doctor to do so. He should’ve kept the card as proof.
When he came to know about the clinical misjudgement, he gave cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the patient for 15-20 minutes to stabilise him and saved his life. I think we should give him credit for that,” said Merchant.
Meanwhile, the 45-year-old patient, identified as Prakash, is said to be suffering from alcohol abuse and mental instability, as well as a severe ear infection for which he underwent surgery.
The maggots in his ear were also removed and he has since been shifted to the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU). “He is probably a destitute individual and has no specific records of family or relatives. He is in delirium and is also an alcoholic. We are focusing on getting him back on the track,” said dean Merchant.
While the police wait for the dean to submit an inquiry report for the incident, the hospital has already made a few changes to procedure. Not only will doctors now strictly be required to observe the cooling down period before a patient can be declared dead and sent for post-mortem, but the attending doctor will also have to conduct two ECGs — one at the start of the cooling down period, and another at the end, to leave no room for doubt.