NEW DELHI: The Delhi government cancelled the licence of Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, on Friday. The hospital cannot run its out-patient department or admit new patients with immediate effect, state health minister Satyendar Jain said while announcing the government action. “Patients already admitted can seek referral or continue treatment at Max Shalimar Bagh,” he added.
The government’s action came hours after the submission of the final report of the inquiry committee constituted to look into allegations of medical negligence in the treatment of a premature newborn who was declared dead by the hospital when he was still alive. The committee found the hospital guilty of negligence, the government said.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government will not tolerate “open loot and criminal negligence”. “Whereas we don’t wish to interfere in day to day functioning of pvt hospitals, however, open loot or criminal negligence by any hospital won’t be tolerated. We won’t hesitate to take strongest action in such cases,” Kejriwal tweeted.
Max Healthcare authorities confirmed receipt of the cancellation order. “We strongly believe that this ruling is harsh and that we have not been given an adequate opportunity to be heard. We believe that even if there is an individual error of judgment, holding the hospital responsible is unfair and will severely limit the ability for patients to access treatment. This will compound the shortage of hospital facilities in the national capital,” the hospital chain said in a statement.
Max Hospital says it will explore all available options
It added: “We will explore all options available to us. We stand firmly behind our commitment to patient care, clinical and service excellence to the best of our capabilities.”
“The government has taken a wrong decision… For a mistake that occurred at the level of adoctor, the licence of the hospital cannot be cancelled,” IMA president K K Aggarwal said.
“The committee in its report concluded that the hospital had not kept any proper temperature and vital sign monitor record of the period of comfort care provided to the live male newborn,” the cancellation order states. It adds: “The committee also concluded the staff nurses on duty were also at fault as they handed over the bodies of the newborns without any written direction from the paediatrician and they also missed the signs of life in the male newborn while handing over the ‘body’ to the attendants.”
The newborn was delivered on November 30 at Max, Shalimar Bagh, put on life support for five hours and subsequently declared dead and given to the family in a plastic bag. The grandfather discovered that the baby was still alive while taking the “body” for cremation. The infant was rushed to a nursing home in west Delhi where he died on Wednesday.
The committee members concluded that the hospital had entered the name of the live male newborn in the stillbirth register. “This hospital is a habitual offender and three notices were sent earlier to it. It has been found guilty in those cases too,” the health minister said. He added that action against doctors as deemed fit will be taken by the Delhi Medical Council which is seized of the matter.
The 250-bed hospital in northwest Delhi was inspected by government officials on November 20 and it was found that the OPD for EWS patients was located in one corner of the hospital premises with a makeshift waiting area with broken chairs, Jain said. “The condition of the EWS OPD and its waiting area was pathetic, the service in the said OPD was discriminatory and the free OPD achievement was less than 7.1% and 8.1% for November 15 to November 17, respectively,” he added.
Another charge on which the government found Max Shalimar Bagh at fault was the utilisation of extra beds approved on a temporary basis to treat dengue and chikungunya cases to admit patients requiring uterus and gall bladder removal.
On an average, Max Shalimar Bagh sees 500 patients in the OPD daily. New admissions, including emergency visits, are close to 150, said sources. “The admitted patients will continue to be treated. But many others who have been booked for surgery or other procedures may not be entertained after this order. We cannot even see emergency cases,” said a doctor. He added that the hospital had 171 chemotherapies scheduled till December 30, 63 surgeries till December 15 and 241 dialysis sessions till December 16.