Death of two Madurai moms: Records altered, probe on

 The collector wrote that the maternal death of Semmalar was audited on September 3. 
Image used for representational purposes (Photo |Express Illustrations)
Image used for representational purposes (Photo |Express Illustrations)

MADURAI: In a shocking development, medical officers at the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai are alleged to have fabricated case sheets and patient records following two maternal deaths in September. Following a letter from Madurai collector MS Sangeetha flagging the issue, the state health department has formed a committee to probe the issue on Monday. 

According to Deputy Director of Health Dr Kumaraguru, the collector discovered the fabrication of case sheets during the monthly maternal death audits conducted with the city health officer, joint director of medical & rural health services and duty assistant professor at GRH.

In her September 20 letter to Health Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi requesting action be taken, the collector said that the Obstetrics and Gynaecology (OG) department of the GRH had fabricated in their favour the case sheets of a patient named Semmalar, who died on September 2, and patient Kuppi, who died on September 5.   

The collector wrote that the maternal death of Semmalar was audited on September 3. Subsequently, she asked the duty assistant, OG, GRH to hand over a copy of the case sheet for a detailed audit.

A comparison of the case sheet photocopied on September 3 and the case sheet provided by GRH on September 4 showed the latter has was fabricated in nine places, she wrote. The changes included a rewritten of pages, one new episode of chills, rigours, vomiting and abdominal distention added in notes and a few pages changed completely. 

In the case of Kuppi's death, the audit was conducted on September 7 and the collector said she found patient records had been fabricated.  

Prior to the patient's death, no treatment notes had been recorded. After her death, however, the diagnosis was entered under treatment notes as if it had been made before the death. ECHO notes were entered on the same page and advice regarding admission was added retroactively, the collector said. She added that she had recommended suspension of the medical officer involved but the GRH dean and OG department head had not taken any action. 

Doctors at Urban Primary Health Centres too have written to the Madurai Corporation Commissioner alleging that GRH doctors are not providing proper care to pregnant women referred by them. "Even in the maternal death of Thilagavathi on September 29 allegedly due to postpartum haemorrhage, the GRH recorded it as a death caused by dengue fever," the doctors said.

They also alleged that when the Madurai CHO visited GRH to inquire about maternal deaths, the doctors there threatened them. However, the OG department of GRH has complained to the dean that the CHO had harassed and verbally abused the doctors. He and his team had drawn samples from the patient and tried to take photos of ward records, they alleged. 

A senior health official said the collector's letter had been forwarded to National Health Mission Shilpa Prabhakar Satish. A committee comprising retired gynaecologists Dr Shobha, Dr Rathinakumar and NHM state programme manager Palani will commence their inquiry on Monday. 

Meanwhile, Dr K Senthil, president of the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association, in a statement said Madurai CHO Dr Vinodh and his staff had trespassed into the GRH maternal ward, threatened the staff and drawn blood samples of the deceased. Condemning the CHO's action and seeking his suspension, the association's members will stage a protest on October 3 by not performing non-emergency operations, he said.

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