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35 infants die at Kolkata hospital in 4 days

Families allege mismanagement, and medical negligence

Women caretakers of the babies admitted at B C Roy Child Hospital, outside a ward of the hospital in Kolkata on Saturday. PTI Photo
At least 35 infants have reportedly died at the state-run B C Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences here in the last four days. According to hospital sources, 16 infants died on September 3 and 4 and 10 more on September 5.

While families alleged mismanagement and medical negligence, a three-member probe committee set up by the state government gave a clean chit to hospital authorities and ruled out any negligence on their part. According to doctors, most infants were admitted in extremely critical conditions.

Trideb Banerjee, chairman of the state health department’s special task force, which probes into infant deaths, rejected the allegations. “It is a referral hospital and patients are usually admitted here in critical condition. Doctors always try their best but sometimes patients cannot be saved. There is not a single case of negligence,” he told reporters.
Sources said despite being a referral hospital, people often come here from far-flung areas with critically ill children. They allege negligence when the children die.

“Most of the children who died are from poor families and suffered from malnutrition. All of them were born premature, with low birth weight,” a senior doctor said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, deputed eight additional child specialists to assist the medical staff.

“The health department has been struggling to take the best care of children. We have been striving to ensure that not a single child dies for want of proper treatment. However, in some cases, we have noted that nothing can be done,” the task force chairman said.

The state government formed the task force in 2011. In October 2011, 18 children had died in 48 hours at B C Roy hospital.

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