A report claims that many of the twenty-three children who died after consuming the poison-laced midday meal now appear to be victims of wrong diagnosis. The situation of primary health centers and government hospitals is more or less the same across the state.
In the past two years, Muzaffarpur District has reported many cases of medical negligence. In September 2011, the unit of Dr. H.N. Bhardwaj at Shree Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) incorrectly operated upon Sushila Devi's gall bladder instead of her right leg. Her husband, Shiv Narayan Prasad, lodged an FIR against the doctor. This case managed to reach Ashwin Chaube, State Health Minister, who ordered a probe into the case and formed a team of doctors to investigate it. S.K.M.C.H. Superintendent Dr. G.K. Thakur also accepted that it was a human error. In spite of this, no doctor, guilty of the wrong act, was punished. Neither did Sushila receive any compensation.
Seeing the upsurge in such "erroneous" cases, patients have stopped trusting the medical services provided by the State Government. Helpless, they turn to private practitioners who are robbing them in broad daylight. Normal cases of child delivery are pronounced 'critical' and major operations are done to extract money from the hapless patients. Another way of harassing the poor patients is by prescribing more medicine than required. In the "Medical Mandi" of Jooran Chapara of North Bihar, thousands of poor patients are swindled every day.
The administration blames it on the paucity of doctors but the fact that the doctors of government hospitals spend most of their time in their private nursing homes and hospitals can't be refuted. Ever since medical practice has become a business than a service, more cases of negligence and carelessness are surfacing. More than fifty such nursing homes have mushroomed in Muzaffarpur itself; their managers and directors are, in some way or the other, connected to government hospitals.
Although these private nursing homes charge exorbitant fees, the services they provide are not up to the mark. These private health institutions have registered similar cases of negligence over a period of time leaving no option for the patients.
Several excuses can be listed supporting the serious infrastructure inadequacies in government hospitals. Stating that there is a shortage of doctors is the easy way out but there are a handful of responsible doctors who are willing to discuss the root causes.
The Superintendent, SKMCH, Dr. G.K. Thakur, says: "The number of patients visiting the hospital is increasing consistently and it has become difficult for a small number of doctors to handle the pressure. There are 109 approved posts in our hospital of which 52 are empty. This acute shortage affects the quality of treatment. I have been writing letters to the government for the last three years, but this problem has not been attended to."
The Charkha Development Communication Network feels that keeping government doctors outside the periphery of Consumer Protection Act makes them careless. The logic behind keeping them away from the regulation is that government services are provided almost free of cost; hence, they are outside the periphery of the act.
Providing services free of cost to the rural and marginalized communities is the responsibility of our Government. Not an excuse for the government doctors to walk away freely from the grave charge of taking lives. For this irrational argument would then apply to the culprits who caused the death of the twenty three young lives due to the school meal provided free of cost.
--ANI (Posted on 12-08-2013)