Doctors train guns on Ajoy Mehta

Updated: Mar 16, 2019, 11:26 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Ophthalmologists remind civic chief of the principle of respondeat superior - Latin for 'let the master answer' - and his ad hoc punishment of a doctor last month

BMC chief Ajoy Mehta
BMC chief Ajoy Mehta

Doctors and staff of city hospitals have asked if civic chief Ajoy Mehta will take responsibility and compensate the victims of Thursday's bridge collapse, three of whom were their colleagues. Mehta had last month held honorary ophthalmologist Dr Arun Choudhary responsible and ordered him to compensate those who lost their vision at the HBT Trauma care hospital in Jogeshwari.

"It was unfair that Mehta made unsolicited remarks against Dr Chowdhary and directed the Maharashtra Medical Council to cancel his license without an independent probe," a doctor said, adding that Mehta should be held responsible and made to compensate each victim. Another senior medical officer from a suburban civic hospital said many honorary doctors – specialists who give back to society by serving in civic hospitals for an honorarium – contemplated mass resignations.

A department head from a civic-run medical college in the city said, "Cooper Hospital's dean has additional charge of the trauma centre but has not bothered to find the source that led to the infection in the Jogeshwari case."

The suburban doctor added, "Honorary doctors have no control over civic staff. The equipment is sterlised in autoclaved machines, which is handled by the surgical support team. No surgeon will operate on a patient if he knew the equipment was not sterilised."

Drawing parallels, founder trustee of Watch Dog foundation Godfrey Pimenta said, "The principal of respondeat superior (let the master answer) is applicable here too. If any one head should roll for dereliction of duty, it is that of Mehta. Following the Ghokale Bridge collapse, Mehta announced all 160 footover and other bridges will be audited, but without even raising concerns about the manner in which the audit was done, the BMC accepted the report with no remarks made on it and did not even question the structural auditor about the method he had used. Mehta has been the CM's blue eyed boy and it is time the CM ensured accountability and fixed responsibility."

A member of the Bombay Ophthalmologist Association supportive of Dr Choudhary said the demand for an eye for eye is out of anguish and may die down with passing time
"We believe it would be unfair to hold either Dr Choudhary or Mehta for the two unfortunate incidents that they are not directly responsible for," said an ophthalmologist. "Dr Choudhary happened to be an easy target, but no one realised he had no role to play in the administrative decisions nor had any control over the staff.

Similarly, Mehta may not be appraised about the status of each and every bridge, but officials under him are directly responsible. We are not against Mehta, but he could have set up an inquiry to find out the source of infection. At least in the bridge collapse those responsible for doing a shoddy work should get punished."

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