In the midst of growing furiosity in Tamil Nadu to arrest the two suspended government doctors who were accused of performing a botched surgery on 17-year-old Chennai footballer Priya that led her to die, the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association (TNGDA) has come in defense of the two doctors and opposed the state government's legal measure of taking action against them.
The statement from the association has drawn stern criticism as it is backing the doctors whose apathy regarding the surgery caused Priya's death and their negligence has come to light in a recent probe. Both the doctors who were attached at the Government Periphery Hospital in Periyar Nagar, Chennai, were suspended after the girl died on November 15. A case has been filed against them under section 304A - causing death by negligence of the Indian Penal Code.
Days after the suspension and at a high time when the Madras High Court asked the doctors to surrender before the police, the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association on Saturday displayed that it is on a different page and that the government's action against those two doctors must be revoked. In a statement issued on Saturday, TNGDA President Dr. K Senthil asked the government to rethink the charges that the doctors were booked under section 304A.
The association further appealed to the media not to disclose the identity of the doctors. The statement has come a day after the Madras High Court denied anticipatory bail to the two doctors - Paul Ramsankar and Somasundar. As per the statement, the association has adopted a resolution to stage protests across the state if the government fails to change the IPC section under which the case was filed against the two accused doctors.
By citing that the police action against the accused doctors was extreme, TNGDA said that the law enforcement agency needed to get an opinion from the seniormost doctor in the field as per the Supreme Court guidelines. The statement said, "The police should seek the opinion of the seniormost specialist while investigating the death related to medical negligence. The police can register cases against the medical officers under 304A if the doctor says there was criminal negligence during the treatment."
TNGDA further claimed that the expert committee formed by the state health department to inquire about Priya's death has found civil negligence in the case, and not criminal negligence. The statement stated that the High Court didn't adhere to the Supreme Court's guidelines while denying anticipatory bail and asking the doctors to surrender to the police. The association has also requested Chief Minister MK Stalin to take disciplinary action against the doctors on the grounds of civil negligence.
The association further advocated that both the accused doctors have performed the surgery successfully and Priya's death occurred due to post-operation medical negligence which should be considered civil negligence. Besides supporting the accused doctors, TNDGA has asked the Tamil Nadu Government Nurses Association and functionaries in the Indian Medical Association to support their resolution.
The association's apparent stand on supporting the accused doctors sparked public outrage when Priya's family, relatives, and friends are demanding their arrest. With regard to Priya's death, a case has been filed at Kolathur Police station against the doctors, and earlier, Chief Minister MK Stalin visited Priya's family in Vyasarpadi, Chennai, and handed over Rs 10 lakh as solatium.
The tragic end of a sport star
Priya was a footballer and a student at Queen Mary's College. It has been reported that Priya was suffering from leg pain and she was initially taken to the Government Peripheral Hospital in Periyar Nagar last month. The doctors at the hospital told Priya on October 26 that a ligament tear was detected on her right knee and it should be fixed through surgery. According to reports, Priya and her family met the doctors at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and sought a second opinion on her leg pain and on the advised surgery.
The doctors at Rajiv Gandhi Hospital advised Priya to undergo the surgery as advised by the Government Peripheral Hospital as this medical facility was close to her residence. She was admitted to the Periyar Nagar hospital and the surgery was performed on November 7. However, after the surgery, Priya began complaining of severe pain in her legs. Later, there was a suspected blood clot in her leg and she was then shifted to the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital for further treatment.
The doctors at the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital did medical investigations and found that the tissues in Priya's right leg were dead and that her right leg has to be removed to save her life. It was reported that it was due to the medical apathy of the doctors at the Periyar Nagar hospital that caused her a health setback as she lost her tissues and went on to lose a leg. Her family members and relatives staged a protest against the doctors of the Periyar Nagar hospital by alleging that they were the reason why she lost her leg.
In the midst of the protests, Priya's leg was removed on November 9. However, the pain endured by her didn't subdue. She was operated on for the second time as her condition didn't improve and this second follow-up surgery was done at the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital on Monday- November 14. She was put on ventilator support and was monitored by the doctors. However, amid the treatments, Priya breathed her last on Tuesday- November 15. Her death has sparked heatwaves across the state as the news of her demise stirred outcry against the Periyar Nagar government hospital and the doctors who operated with negligence.
On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said, "We have learned from the medical inquiry committee that neglect by two doctors at the Periyar Nagar government hospital is one of the reasons for her death." In the wake of the outrage, the Director of Medical Education, Kilpauk, has passed the orders of suspending two doctors -Somasundar and Balram Shankar of the Periyar Nagar hospital for their negligence that caused the footballer to lose her life.