Kidney recipient death: Senior doctors remained home while PG students treated patient

The deceased patient Suresh Kumar (inset) Thiruvananthapuram Medical College

Thiruvananthapuram: The preliminary probe report filed by the State Health Department Additional Chief Secretary, following the death of a kidney transplant patient allegedly owing to the delay in the transplant surgery, revealed serious lapses.

The protocol, insisting on the presence of senior doctors from the time the patient reaches the hospital for transplant, was not followed, the report says. The patient was being treated by Post Graduate students only, right from the beginning. The Head of the Department of  Nephrology, who was in Delhi in connection with the conduct of examinations, failing to hand over the duty to any other doctors, is also pointed out as a serious error.

The report is on the preliminary investigation into the unfortunate death of G Suresh Kumar, a retired ITI instructor, on Monday, after he underwent the transplant surgery on Sunday.

Suresh Kumar, who was admitted to the Medical College hospital around 3.30 pm on Sunday, was taken for dialysis soon. The senior doctors, knowing that the dialysis would take about 4 hours, remained at home and thought of reaching the hospital right before the surgery. 

On Tuesday, Health minister Veena George had hit back strongly against Kerala Medical College Teachers' Association (KGMCTA) and Indian Medical Association (IMA) for expressing resentment at the suspension of the two senior doctors, as both the organisations had said that the doctors were being made scapegoats before a proper enquiry was done.

"If not doctors, who else should be held responsible," the minister had asked on Tuesday. "Each patient who comes to a hospital is important. And the entire responsibility of the patient lies with the doctor and not the students. Strict protocols have been laid down and any failure would be taken seriously by the government," she said.

She had also said that the suspension of two doctors was not a disciplinary action. "People in charge should take responsibility. There is no need for a protest on that count," she said. The KGMCTA had warned of an agitation if the suspensions were not withdrawn. The heads of Nephrology and Urology departments of the Medical College were suspended on June 20, pending enquiry. The minister pointed out that the preliminary report submitted by the additional chief secretary (health) concluded a failure of department-level coordination as the reason for the unfortunate turn of events.

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