Hospital deaths: Deliver justice if child delivery goes wrong

Indeed it was tragic. The death of a young woman by the name of Rachel N Guite just five days after giving birth to a twin is a tragedy. In fact, the death of any expectant mother on hospital bed who looks healthy is an irrecoverable tragedy for the family in particular and the society at large. Everybody is shocked and grief-stricken when a young healthy woman who went to hospital for delivery is brought back as a lifeless body, and in most such cases, the grief-stricken family and relatives often suspect foul play (negligence) on the part of the attending doctors. Justice should be done to all unnatural deaths including that of Rachel N Guite. The appeal of Rachel’s family to investigate not just the circumstances of Rachel’s death but also the pattern of sudden and avoidable deaths either due to negligence or lack of proper facilities deserves due attention of all concerned. Sparring between patient parties and doctors in such cases of tragic deaths is not something uncommon in the State. One common argument of patient parties is that the patients died due to negligence on the part of the attending doctors. The counter argument runs like this. The patients died due to medical complications under unavoidable circumstances. These arguments and counter-arguments often raged on for days and sometimes the patient parties took recourse to violence. This is understandable given the fact that they are the victims who lost their dear ones. These victims, when their grievances and hurt sentiments are not addressed, become aggressors targeting attending doctors and hospital properties, and we have seen many such incidents in Government hospitals as well as private clinics. In this whirlpool of tension, despair, arguments, counter-arguments and violence, the truth of the matter (how and under what circumstances the patients died) get lost. Indeed the lost of a dear one under a medical practitioner’s care is a tragedy. But keeping the exact causes of death a secret is a double tragedy.
Even though sparring between patient parties and doctors/hospital authorities do happen in the State intermittently, there is no quick-fix solution to the problem. We do know there is a Manipur Medical Council (MMC). It is also in records that in the backdrop of intermittent sparring between patient parties and doctors/hospital authorities, the MMC came out with a concise appeal to all aggrieved (patient) parties to come to them if they (patient parties) suspect any malpractices or wrongdoings on the part of the attending doctors. Seated on the judgment throne, the MMC can definitely clear many doubts and suspicions of patient parties. At the same time, the MMC can also put doctors on the podium of moral victory by clearing their names off the allegations of medical malpractices or negligence, of course, after due investigation. In many cases, patient parties, after losing their dear ones, are overwhelmed by painful emotions, despair and anger. At such circumstances, sentiments and emotions drive the patient parties and rationale takes the backseat. In some extreme cases, patient parties went to the extent of viewing doctors as killers, not saviours. Yes, no man is perfect and doctors belong to the kingdom of mankind. At the same time, not all doctors are competent or efficient enough to fulfill the services demanded or needed by his or her patients. Herein lies the tricky responsibility of the MMC. Candidly speaking, we are not sure how many (aggrieved) patient parties approached MMC as well as the number of cases it had investigated so far. We are also not sure if any doctors have been indicted in case it had investigated any cases of unnatural death. Yet, just as the bereaved family appealed, the death of Rachel should not go in vain. Doubts and suspicions of patient parties must be cleared, and by doing so, the good names of doctors can also be saved. Or is there no one to investigate unnatural deaths on hospital beds particularly expectant mothers?

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