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INDIAN (H)

Man dies before operation, bribe cuffs on Kolkata hospital staffer

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Man dies before operation, bribe cuffs on Kolkata hospital staffer KOLKATA: An employee of a prominent government-run hospital in the city was arrested late on Saturday for demanding a Rs 3-lakh bribe from the family members of a patient who required a stent and other devices to help him “jump the queue” for the life-saving surgery.

Amit Mandal, 23, died on April 27, waiting for the procedure in due course.

The entire process was supposed to be completely free, as it was to be done in a government hospital, and the patient’s family had applied for a cost-waiver to the health department.

Amit’s family refused to grease the palms of Palash Dutta, a medical storekeeper at the Bangur Institute of Neurosciences (BIN). They lodged a complaint with the hospital and the cops. The hospital conducted a preliminary probe and forwarded the complaint to the Bhowanipore police on May 1. Amit’s father Dhananjay accused Dutta of keeping the application fee for free medical devices with him, instead of forwarding it to Swasthya Bhawan. The fam-ily also accused Dutta of harassment and of abusing Amit’s mother when the family confronted him. Dutta was produced in court on Sunday, charged with, including others, abetment, outraging a woman’s modesty, wrongful restraint and vol-untarily causing hurt.

Amit had been admitted to BIN on January 25, where doctors detected cerebral aneurysm, a condition where there is an abnormal dilation in a brain artery due to weakening of muscular layer of a blood vessel wall.

Cerebral aneurysm results in bleeding into the space around the brain, and can cause death in acute cases. The treating doctor advised surgical intervention.

“We could not afford the cost of the devices, and hence decided to approach the health department to get those for free or at a concession,” alleged Dhananjay, Amit Mandal’s father. “At this point, the storekeeper approached us and demanded money to get the file cleared from Swasthaya Bhavan quickly.” The family also claimed that Palash Dutta kept the file with himself for weeks, even as Amit’s condition kept deteriorating. They said Datta misbehaved with them.

Dr Ajay Ray, the officiating director of BIN, acknowledged the allegations. He, however, did not comment whether there was any administrative lapse in ensuring free medical devices to patients. “The accused is an employee at the hospital’s medical store. It would not be proper on my part to comment on the case as the mater in under investigation now,” he said.

Doctors at the hospital admitted that it takes a long time to get approval for high-end, costly gadgets. Since the state government started the scheme for free medical devices for patients in its hospitals, even those who can otherwise afford the devices apply for it, creating a huge backlog of files. But the fact remains that Amit had to wait for over three months for the free devices, and died before the life-saving surgical intervention could be performed.

“In cerebral aneurysm that has become symptomatic requiring surgical intervention, the procedure should be done as early as possible; otherwise, chances of developing new leakages could prove bad for the patient,” said Dr Amit Haldar, a neuro-physician at Fortis Hospital, Anandapur.



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