18 babies die at govt hospital in Bengal, probe ordered

Jun 30, 2011

Eighteen babies died at a premier state-run children hospital here, triggering protests by locals and relatives who alleged negligence by doctors even as the West Bengal government ordered an inquiry.

Mrinal Kanti Chatterjee, principal of the BC Roy Children's Hospital told PTI that 18 babies died in the past 48 hours.

The health department also confirmed the deaths.

Superintendent D Pal said most of the babies were either pre-mature or suffering from septicaemia or low-birth weight problems and were brought in a moribund stage to the hospital, the largest paediatric referral in the eastern region.

Aggrieved over the deaths, family members and local people barged into the hospital's main building alleging medical negligence, police said.

The agitators also blocked the road in front of the hospital before being chased away by policemen.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered a probe.

"The inquiry committee, which has been formed with two doctors from outside, has been asked to ascertain if there was any lapse on our part and submit a report within 24 hours," she said.

"The babies were referred from hospitals in South 24 Parganas, Nadia and East Midnapore districts when they were near death," she told reporters.

Of the babies, one was referred by a reputed heart care institute and two had heart trouble, she said.

"Two babies had heart trouble. I have ordered a probe and asked the authorities to submit a report to me," she said.

"If any medical negligence is proved in the case, nobody will be spared and we will not see any political colour," she warned.

Banerjee noted that once 75 babies had died at the same hospital and the authorities had claimed that it was 'normal'.

She said she wanted to visit the hospital, but did not do so fearing it might hinder the treatment of the children.

Earlier in September 2002, there were protests in the same hospital when 14 children died of broncho-pneumonia and gastro-enteritis.