Maternal mortality Complications or negligence?

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Frankly we are not sure whether the suspension is required or not but the death of a young mother during delivery at RIMS on July 6 is really tragic. Pending a comprehensive enquiry, one doctor has been suspended in connection with the death. Now fellow Gynaecologists have not only openly condemned the suspension order, they are also demanding revocation of the same order within a week. They have been contending that doctors do not have the slightest intention to let a woman or her baby die during delivery and the patients died due to medical complications under unavoidable circumstances. The counter-argument often put forth by aggrieved patient parties says that there is laxity on the part of the attending/consultant doctors. No doubt, doctors are neither gods nor are they miracle performers but when a healthy woman dies during delivery, it definitely demands a thorough enquiry. Enquiries into such controversial deaths should not be construed as victimization or humiliation of the consultant doctors. Findings of such enquiries can throw light on hitherto unknown secrets and prove to be valuable lessons to both the medical fraternity and the general public. More often than not, the victims (patient parties), when their grievances and hurt sentiments are not addressed, become aggressors targeting attending doctors or hospital properties. In this whirlpool of tension, despair, arguments, counter arguments and violence, the truth of the matter (how and under what circumstances the patients died) get lost. Indeed the loss of a dear one under a medical practitioner’s care is a tragedy. But keeping the exact cause(s) of death a secret is a double tragedy.

The enquiry committee should be given a free hand to investigate into the controversial death thoroughly. The task entrusted to the committee demands professionalism, efficiency and sense of fairness. They are virtually sitting on the judgment throne and even the slightest suggestion of being partial would land them in deep trouble. Having said this, we must also admit that there is no quick-fix solution to intermittent sparring between doctors and/or hospital authorities with patient parties. We are hopeful that the enquiry committee can clear many doubts and suspicions of patient parties. At the same time, the committee can put the attending/consultant doctors on the podium of moral victory when their names are cleared after investigation, of course, if they are not found culpable. Generally, patient parties after their dear ones have been lost are overwhelmed by painful emotions, despair and anger. At such circumstances, sentiments and emotions drive the patient parties and rationale takes the backseat. In some extreme cases, patient parties went to the extent of viewing doctors as killers, not saviours. Yes, no man is perfect and doctors belong to the kingdom of mankind. Yet, not all doctors are competent or efficient enough to fulfill the service demanded or needed by his/her patients. By saying this, we are not in any way indicting the doctors who attended to the young woman at RIMS. Nonetheless, our appeal to the enquiry committee and RIMS authority is, clear the doubts of patient parties as well as the good names of doctors but don’t hesitate to take necessary action against erring doctors if they are found so.

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