Nair hospital student’s suicide: Licences of 4 doctors suspended

Five days after Dr Payal Tadvi, 23, a gynaecology student working as a resident doctor at BYL Nair Hospital committed suicide, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) suspended the licences of four doctors – three senior medical students and a department head accused of abetting the incident. The three doctors, who are currently absconding and have not replied to the anti-ragging committee of the hospital which is probing the incident, have, however, written to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), refuting charges of discrimination and ragging, and demanding a fair investigation.

“The three doctors – Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehar and Dr Ankita Khandilwal – and Dr Yi Ching Ling, professor and head of the unit, gynaecology department, are suspended until completion of inquiry. We will take a final call once the investigation into their role in the suicide is completed,” said Sunil Dhamne, deputy municipal commissioner (health), BMC.

In the letter, the three doctors claimed students opposed heavy workload, terming it “ragging”. They said they don’t discriminate against students on the basis of caste while allotting work or treating patients. “The college should conduct a fair investigation. Using police force, media pressure and not listening to our side of the story isn’t an ideal way [to investigate]. Just because we don’t know the cause, it is unjust to level charges of atrocity [against us],” read the letter signed by Dr Ahuja, Dr Mehar and Dr Khandilwal.

Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of the hospital, said their letter was inconsequential and the accused will have to appear before the investigating committee. “If they are innocent, they should appear in front of the committee and submit their responses. After the incident, the committee has interviewed 25-30 people, including professors, Dr Tadvi’s colleagues, medical support staff and anybody even distantly linked to the incident,” said Dr Bharmal.

The committee is likely to submit its report to the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the hospital has also prepared a new action plan to prevent such incidents in the future.

Along with members of MARD, the hospital has started a biweekly review of work-related stress in all departments. “Our clinical departments are working at 150% of their capacity owing to the excess patient load. From now on, select members of MARD and I will meet all resident doctors frequently to know the status of workload and find ways to reduce it. We are also hiring a professional psychiatrist to conduct basic psychological and physical evaluation of all our residents every six months,” Dr Bharmal said.

The Maharashtra State Women’s Commission (MSWC) has asked Dr Bharmal to submit within eight days a report explaining if the college followed anti-ragging laws and whether there was an effective channel where medical students could complain about harassment.

“Suicide over ragging is an extremely serious allegation and we will follow up on the investigation. The hospital is supposed to inform us within eight days how they plan to ensure that anti-ragging norms are followed strictly,” said Dr Manjusha Molvane, member secretary, MSWC.

First Published:
May 28, 2019 04:08 IST

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