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Did Punjab doctor ‘deliver baby’ via video call? What panel probing pregnant woman’s death found

Pregnant woman & unborn child died at Mansa Civil Hospital on 12 Dec. Panel said gynac on duty could’ve reached earlier given that she was informed of woman's serious condition.

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Chandigarh: An inquiry committee of the Punjab government’s department of health has concluded that negligence on the part of a doctor on duty at the Mansa Civil Hospital led to the death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child during the delivery earlier this month, ThePrint has learned.

The woman — Sapna Kaur of Atla Kalan village — and her child died at the government-run ‘jacha bacha‘ hospital at Mansa on 12 December. Following her death, the woman’s kin staged a dharna outside the hospital, demanding action against doctors they accused of neglecting the patient.

The patient’s husband, Baljinder Singh, even alleged that the doctor on duty, senior gynaecologist Dr Baljit Kaur, instead of coming to the hospital, issued instructions to the staff on duty over the phone on how to conduct the delivery which he claimed led to the death of his wife and child.

On Tuesday evening, a fact-finding committee tasked with probing the matter handed over its report to Director, Health Services (Family Welfare), Dr Ranjit Singh. Speaking to ThePrint, Dr Singh confirmed that he had received the report, adding that he would recommend appropriate action to the state health secretary in this regard. The action, he added, could entail the errant doctor facing a transfer and a departmental inquiry.

The case from Mansa came to light days before Punjab was awarded the first prize for the successful implementation of the central government’s Surakshit Matritva Aashwashan (SUMAN) programme aimed at achieving “Zero Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths”. The prizes were announced by the Union Minister of State (MoS) for Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, at the national workshop on maternal health in Delhi Saturday.

Health minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra claimed credit for the achievement by saying that health conditions in the state had improved since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government came to power in Punjab.

Also Read: Why protesters have gheraoed Punjab liquor factory for 5 months — ‘toxic ash’

What committee found

According to the committee’s findings, the doctor “on call” on 12 December was not able to reach Mansa Civil Hospital in time though she was informed about the patient’s condition. The report, however, says the committee found no evidence of the doctor having instructed staff nurses how to conduct the delivery over the phone or video call, adding that she did tell staff nurses to prepare the patient for a possible caesarean.

Though the woman had been coming to the hospital for regular checkups, she was not considered a high-risk pregnancy, the report goes on to say. It adds that since hers was not seen as a high-risk case, the woman was attended to by the doctor on emergency duty and the staff nurses on duty — who opted for normal delivery — when she came in on 12 December. 

A senior doctor supervising the inquiry told ThePrint that the gynaecologist on call was not summoned earlier since, in the case of a normal delivery, senior staff nurses are considered capable of handling such procedures.

However, as the patient went into distress before she could deliver the child, staff nurses called Dr Baljit Kaur over the phone at around 9:30 am. 

According to the staff nurses quoted in the report, they shared details of the patient’s condition with the doctor again around 11:30 am and she rushed to arrive at the hospital at around 11:50 am and tried to salvage the situation. But by that time, the patient who was already in a “very serious condition” could not be revived. 

“The inquiry committee has concluded that the gynaecologist on call should have been able to assess the seriousness of the case and reach the hospital in time. Based on these conclusions, the concerned doctor is expected to be both transferred from the Mansa civil hospital and also face a department inquiry,” a senior doctor who accessed the inquiry report told ThePrint. 

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Chandigarh University: SIT finds ‘no objectionable videos’ of other women on phone of suspect


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