Kolkata, May 23 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS) In a rare action, India’s apex medical regulatory body MCI has overturned the decision of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and directed to cancel for three months licenses of two influential Kolkata doctors for causing death of an NRI doctor’s wife from “medical negligence” in 1998.
The two doctors are medicine specialist Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee and dermatologist Dr. B. N. Halder. The former is a noted name in Kolkata medical fraternity and treats even celebrities like former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and top politicians.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) decision was communicated to Ohio-based doctor and HIV/AIDS researcher Kunal Saha, the latter said on Monday circulating the letter in the media.
Saha’s wife and US-based child psychologist, Anuradha Saha, died on May 28, 1998 during a social visit to India (Kolkata) at an age of only 36, owing to what is now held as negligent treatment by the two doctors.
“The judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and the various aspects discussed in the said judgment leave no scope of doubt that there was professional misconduct on the part of the treating doctors and we also hold the same and concur accordingly,” said the MCI.
The Ethics Committee of the Council said so far as the quantum of punishment to be imposed on the treating doctors are concerned, the Committee has noted that the treating doctors i.e. Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee and Dr. B. N. Halder have acted in good faith.
“However, they did not follow the standard protocol in treating the patient suffering from TEN [toxic epidermal necrolysis, a life-threatening skin disorder that is commonly drug-induced],” it said.
“Both the treating doctors are at an advanced age and the ends of justice would be met if their names are removed for a period of three months from the register of concerned State Medical Council,” it said.
A third physician, Dr. Abani Roy Chowdhary, earlier died during the pendency of the case.
According to Kunal Saha, athough the Supreme Court of India found the two senior physicians- Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee and Dr. Baidyanath Halder (and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata)- responsible for Anuradha’s death in a “historic judgment” on August 7, 2009, the members of the WBMC found no negligence in the treatment and acquitted both doctors from all charges.
The Supreme Court had remanded the highest-ever compensation case in Indian history (Rs. 78 crore plus interests since 1998) filed by Saha back to the National Consumers’ Forum (NCDRC) only to determine the quantum of compensation.
Saha had moved the MCI against the WBMC decision to “not act against the doctors”.
“The overturn of the WBMC’s decision by the MCI underscores the blatant and corrupt nature of the state medical council and categorically establishes that the doctor members of the WBMC had deliverately shielded the two highly influential local doctors and obstructed the course of justice,” Saha said.
He said the MCI should have permanently cancelled the licenses of the two doctor and indicated that he might move to a court demanding harsher punishment.
“The MCI has given a reduced punishment for suspension of license for only 3 months considering the old age of the two doctors. But it is now undisputed that a young life was lost as a result of gross medical negligence,” Saha said.
“The MCI should should have permanently cancelled license of these two veteran doctors. I might move the appropriate court against this lenient punishment by the MCI,” he said.
Saha in the course of fighting the cases against the Kolkata doctors and AMRI Hospital, founded “People for Better Treatment” (PBT), a humanitarian society to promote better healthcare and to help the victims of medical negligence.