When doctors fight and patients suffer

AIIMS by Shailendra (3)
Cure unsure Patients wait for their turn at AIIMS in New Delhi

Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which is said to be the leader in the field of medical research and treatment, is allegedly becoming a place of discrimination and politics, even at the cost of patients’ lives.  Since the times of the then director Dr P Venugopal’s tenure when India’s finest heart surgeon faced several accusations and was unceremoniously dismissed from the post following a public spat with the then Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, nothing has changed.

This time it is Dr Biplab Mishra, professor of surgery, AIIMS. Dr Mishra, who saved a young executive after he was impaled by an iron angle, seems to be facing discrimination and got caught into the politics at the premiere hospital. Besides being denied of promotion and seniority, he is not allowed to work as per the patient’s medical requirements.

Anjali , a 22-year-old suffering from cancerous tumour, needed an emergency operation. Dr Mishra wanted to operate on her immediately. He took her to the operation theatre .As the whole team was ready, he was about to start the procedure when another doctor Dr Seenu asked OT staff to stop the OT procedure and Dr Seenu’s team member Dr Rajender Prasad tried to convince patient’s family for the cancellation of operation for five days. The issue turned into a debate as Dr Biplab said she is his patient and he should carry out the procedure. Meanwhile, Anjali kept on crying on the operation table for nearly two hours.

She had come to AIIMS from Rajasthan with cancerous tumour in her chest in hope of better treatment, but the irresponsible behaviour of Dr V Seenu would have made her case more complicated.

Jodhraj Bagada, father of the patient, said, “My daughter was bleeding and waiting for her surgery in operation theatre from two hours. But suddenly Dr Veenu cancelled it.” Dr Seenu allegedly said that the surgery was risky. That’s why the patient will get operated after five days. “But after the surgery, which was ultimately done by Dr Biplab on the same day, my daughter is completely fine,” said Bagada, who wrote a letter to the present AIIMS Director MC Misra about the whole incident but no action has been taken yet. Dr Biplab, on his part, said, “When I raised my voice against this incident and the behavior of Dr Seenu, I was removed from the Department of Surgery without being given any reasons in written by the authorities.”

“I was unfairly made ‘unfit’ for promotion in spite of having all credibility and no reason was even given by the authorities. I challenged the decision and had to go through a review process which I cleared. But still my seniority was not restored and presently I am made to work under my juniors. This is highly disgraceful and undignified way for me to work,” said Dr Biplab.

“This denial of seniority is highly irrational and unjustified as the process of review itself is a continuation of initial interview process and therefore consequential benefits upon promotion cannot be denied. This is also contrary to the law laid down by the Honorable Supreme Court which has consistently held that in cases of retrospective promotion/notional promotion from a back date, seniority above juniors from the earlier date cannot be denied. This is a brazen act of violation of law by the AIIMS authorities,” he added.

He alleged that Dr Misra is playing politics against him to ensure that Dr Biplab does not get promotion. And in the process, he is even putting the lives of patients in danger, Dr Biplab said, adding that Dr Misra is eyeing to be Trauma Centre chief again.

Dr Misra is facing corruption charges related to irregularities in purchase of medical supplies. The Delhi High Court recently asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file a reply in a matter pertaining to the alleged irregularities in purchases, worth lakhs, made in the AIIMS. The purchases were apparently done with the approval of Dr Misra. The court has asked why an FIR was not registered in the matter even after an official complaint.