The Maharashtra government on Thursday, 21 January, suspended district civil surgeon Dr Pramod Khandate, along with the on-duty medical officer of the hospital, Dr Archana Meshram, and sister in charge Jyoti Bharaskar, after a fire killed 10 newborns in Bhandara district general hospital, reported The Indian Express.
While additional civil surgeon Dr Sunita Bade was transferred, the contracts of paediatrician Dr Stuti Ambade and two staff nurses – Smita Sanjay Ambil Duke and Shubhangi Sathavane – of the hospital were terminated, the report added.
An inquiry report into the fire was submitted to the Maharashtra government on 19 January. The probe by a team led by Nagpur Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Kumar found that a baby warmer in the ward first caught fire following a short-circuit.
This led to smoke filling up the entire Newborn Care Unit and in the death of the children due to suffocation. The committee has held civil surgeon Khandate and additional civil surgeon Bade responsible for negligence and the hospital suffering from lack of maintenance.
“The report held Khandate responsible because he was the overall supervisor of the hospital and responsible for repair and maintenance work. The two were also responsible for ensuring adequate staff for the hospital,” IE reported.
An India Today report quoted the committee report saying neither nurses nor doctors were present in the ward or were out for night rounds at the time of the incident. It went on to add that the absence of the hospital staff resulted in the deaths.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and India Today.)
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