Delhi police bust fake hospital operating in GK-1, four held
A man died mid-surgery at the centre on October 26, and two others died in similar circumstances in September 2022
When Jai Narayan was diagnosed with gall bladder stones at Agarwal Medical Centre last month, no one conducted his chest X-Ray, ultrasound, ECG, and a slew of bloods tests before wheeling him in for a surgery. (The family had come with ultrasound and X-Ray to show it to the doctor)
Minutes later, Dr Neeraj Agarwal, the proprietor of the centre located at Greater Kailash-I in south Delhi, told his brother Major Basoya that the 42-year-old had died mid-surgery, allegedly due to a cardiac arrest.
“When I went inside the operation theatre, I saw my brother, dead on a stretcher, still in the clothes he wore from home. The doctors too were not in scrubs. The operation theatre was tiny and dirty, and there was no ventilator,” wrote Basoya, 46, in his complaint to the Delhi Police dated October 28.
In September 2022, two people had died in similar circumstances at the centre, after which an FIR was filed in one case — against unknown people under Indian Penal Code sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 196 (using evidence known to be false), 197 (issuing false certificate), 198 (using false certificate), 201 (obstruction of evidence), and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
On Tuesday, the Delhi Police arrested four people, including Dr Neeraj — who holds only an MBBS degree — along with his wife Pooja, who addressed herself as a doctor but doesn’t hold a medical degree, and Mahender Singh, a lab technician who posed as a doctor. Dr Jaspreet Singh, an MBBS who works in Sarvodaya hospital, allegedly prepared fake surgery notes and has also been arrested, said deputy commissioner of police (south) Chandan Chowdhary.
DCP Chowdhary said, “From 2016 to now, at least seven complaints against Agarwal Medical Centre were sent to the Delhi Medical Council (DMC) in which families of victims had alleged death by negligence.”
Despite this, the centre seems to have functioned smoothly.
HT reached out to DMC, but officials there did not respond to queries for comment.
Regarding the two 2022 cases, Chowdhary said a medical board was constituted in 2022 after the complaints were sent to DMC. A post mortem of both patients was conducted at AIIMS, and the panel of doctors, as quoted by police, concluded “After perusal of PM report, viscera analysis report, histopathology report and inquest papers, we are of the considered opinion that the cause of death in this case is haemorrhagic shock as a complication of laparoscopic cholecystectomy,” which means that the patient died due to excessive bleeding during the procedure, an investigator said.
When Basoya rushed his brother to Agarwal Medical Centre on October 26, little did he know that he would end up losing him. “We decided to take my brother there as it’s cheaper than other facilities. They charged ₹20,000 for the gall bladder surgery, while others were asking for ₹80,000... I didn’t know that they were charging us less because they are not even doctors,” Basoya told HT.
On September 9, 2022, the family of 27-year-old Kiran Devi, a resident of Mahipalpur, alleged that due to medical negligence during a laproscopic cholecystectomy (surgery for removal of gall bladder stones), she died. “The family then alleged that the doctors did not follow due procedure,” said Chowdhary.
On September 19, a man identified as Asgar Ali died during the same surgery — while being operated upon, allegedly, by Mahender, the lab technician who posed as a doctor. DCP Chowdhary said that the family alleged that before the commencement of the surgery, Dr Neeraj said that the surgery will be conducted by Dr Jaspreet Singh, a surgeon, but later replaced him with ‘Dr’ Mahender. The complainant alleged that later she came to know that ‘Dr’ Mahender and ‘Dr’ Pooja are not doctors.
Regarding why no action was taken against the hospital or those running it, despite complaints, the DCP said that the 2022 cases were being investigated and that the Delhi Police was waiting for cause of death to be given by the medical board to take up any action.
“We were following up with agencies for forensic report of the viscera of Ali and other exhibits which were received on November 4 this year. After receiving Basoya’s complaint last month, a medical board was constituted to examine the alleged medical centre and a number of shortcomings were observed including standards of hygiene. The background of these doctors was then examined and finally, after sufficient evidence, arrests were made “ Chowdhary said.
Based on all the complaints, the Delhi police searched Dr Neeraj’s residence and found incriminating evidence, the DCP said. “They performed surgeries without having any degree or authorization to perform a surgery,” Chowdhary said.
When investigators searched the centre and residence of the accused, they recovered over 400 prescription slips containing only signatures of the doctor after leaving considerable space at the top of the prescription slip, two registers containing details of patients whose medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) was conducted, banned medicines, and injections which were supposed to be stored only in hospitals.
Rajeev Kakriya, 60, member of the GK-1 E-Block RWA, where the centre is located, said residents had been complaining against this facility since 2009. “We wrote to the government and the municipal corporations but nothing happened,” he said.