SC verdict embarrasses Bengal

The West Bengal health department is caught in a tight spot. The Supreme Court’s indictment of well-known physician Sukumar Mukherjee in 2009 has come up afresh after the apex court ordered him to pay compensation for medical negligence. Nothing can be done about Mukherjee, chief adviser to the state health department, till Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee returns from her north Bengal tour.

According to sources, the decision regarding Mukherjee, who has been indicted and asked by the apex court to pay more than Rs 40 lakh in the 1998 medical negligence case of Anuradha Saha, can be taken only after the chief minister is back. At present, officials as well as senior ministers are tight-lipped and not even ready to comment.  Insiders pointed out that a face-saving exercise for the state government would be to remove Mukherjee since the apex court questioned his ability to advise the government on public health matters as the advisor to the state department. What makes matters worse is Mamata had praised Mukherjee in public when he was appointed the adviser. 

Health department sources said the issue could embarras the Trinamool Congress government since the Supreme Court not only indicted Mukherjee, but also questioned his appointment as the chief adviser. On August 7, 2009, the apex court indicted Mukherjee and questioned his decision to administer a heavy dose of Depomedrol, a steroid. 

Anuradha had approached Mukherjee after she developed rashes. His treatment failed to cure her and she had to be admitted to AMRI hospital a few days later.  Anuradha was air-lifted to a hospital in Mumbai after some weeks, where she died. Her husband, Kunal, accused doctors at AMRI of medical negligence and complained of wrong diagnosis, drug overdose and improper treatment. 

The hospital was in the news in December 2011 after a fire in its building killed 93 patients. 

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