New Delhi: The Delhi High Court said the Centre and the AAP government cannot have different standards for private hospitals and those run by them as far as instances of medical negligence are concerned.
The observation by Justice Vibhu Bakhru came during the hearing of a plea alleging medical negligence by Safdarjung Hospital in wrongly declaring a newborn as dead in June 2017.
The infant was brought back to the hospital and put on a ventilator, but died after 36 hours.
The court said that for a similar incident the Delhi government had shut down Max Hospital for two days, so why no action has been taken against the staff or doctors concerned of Safdarjung Hospital.
“The Delhi government closed down Max Hospital for two days on a similar issue. There cannot be two standards, one for the private hospitals and one for government hospitals,” it said.
The court asked the Delhi government to place before it the file relating to the Max Hospital incident where a twin baby, born prematurely on November 30, 2017, was wrongly declared dead and was later found to be alive. The baby died a week later.
Directions were also issued by the court to the Medical Superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, represented by central government counsel Monika Arora and advocate Kushal Sharma, to return all the medical records of the mother and baby to the family within a week. It warned that failure to do so would invite its ire.
The court had earlier ordered setting up of a committee to probe the medical negligence charge against the hospital.
The committee today submitted its report in which it has concluded that it was not a baby but an abortus, as it was a 22-week-old foetus, and therefore, “did not merit proactive resuscitation” as it was not capable of surviving.
The panel has held that there does not appear to be any medical negligence on the part of the treating doctors.
However, the court refused to accept the stand saying that five-month-old foetuses are known to have survived even if those incidents were rare and therefore, it cannot be said that in the instant case the foetus could not have survived.
The court was also displeased with the “disturbing” manner in which the foetus was handed over to the family in an envelope and directed the hospital to file an affidavit indicating the person responsible for doing so.
It said that the affidavit should also indicate if any action was proposed to be taken against the individual in question and listed the matter for further hearing on January 18.
According to the petition filed by the parents through advocate Sija Nair Pal, the incident occurred on June 18 this year when the baby was born four months prematurely at Safdarjung Hospital.
The baby was born at 5.45 am, but at 6.00 am the same day the parents were informed that the infant has passed away and the body was handed over in an envelope for the last rites, the petition said.
However, a few hours later, while taking the infant for cremation, it was noticed that the baby was gasping for breath and was rushed back to the hospital.
The hospital provided oxygen to the baby, but the infant did not survive for more than 36 hours, the petition has said.