Police probe baby’s death after surgery at Delhi hospital
Police are investigating the alarming case of a fake hospital being run out of a medical centre in GK 1, in the heart of south Delhi
Even as police investigate the alarming case of a fake hospital being run out of a medical centre in the heart of south Delhi, a man has alleged that his 15-month-old son died after a botched surgery at the clinic more than four years ago, an incident that has underlined the ordeal of countless such victims who fell prey to the racket.
The man, 40-year-old Ranjan Thakur, on Tuesday filed a complaint against the proprietor of Agarwal Medical Centre, Dr Neeraj Agarwal, and his wife Pooja Agarwal, alleging that negligence by the “doctors” at the clinic in Greater Kailash-1 killed his son. He also alleged that a previous complaint he had lodged at the Jaitpur police station “was ignored”.
Senior police officers confirmed they received Thakur’s latest complaint and have asked for the action taken on his earlier report.
Thakur said he took his son, Hritik, who was suffering severe stomach pain, to the centre in Greater Kailash-1 in May 2019. There, Dr Agarwal said the boy needed surgery, which was performed the next morning.
“The doctor told me he had removed a mass lesion from the umbilicus region, and that now my son is fine,” Thakur said in his complaint. Hritik was discharged hours later, he said.
But the next morning, his son began vomiting “a yellow liquid”, said Thakur, who works as a chauffeur.
At this point, Thakur took the boy to the hospital. But he was turned away because the centre didn’t have a machine to provide support to the patient and told to take Hritik to Safdarjung hospital.
“At Safdarjung, the doctors told me that my child had been dead for two hours,” said Thakur. The hospital declared him “dead on arrival under mysterious circumstances.”
A post-mortem examination was conducted the next day at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS),. Deputy commissioner of police (south-east) Rajesh Deo confirmed Thakur’s claims and said, “The boy was admitted at Agarwal Medical Centre on May 20, 2019. On May 21, yellow liquid started coming out of his mouth. The boy was taken to Safdarjung Hospital where he was declared brought dead. A medical board conducted a post-mortem examination and the cause of death was found to be intestinal perforation. The viscera report was sent and the final opinion was received. The initial allegations were of medical negligence. However, since it is now known that Agarwal was not trained to perform a surgery, we are seeking legal opinion for further action in the case.”
Thakur’s is one of dozens of harrowing narratives that have emerged after the police blew the lid off the racket last week.
Investigators suspect that at least 17 people have been killed due to the centre’s malpractices since 2011, in a racket that thrived in the busy south Delhi neighbourhood for over a decade.
Police on November 14 arrested four people from the centre: Dr Neeraj – who held only an MBBS degree; Pooja, who posed as a doctor, even without any background in medicine; Mahender Singh, a lab technician who posed as a doctor and performed several surgeries; and Dr Jaspreet Singh, who works at Sarvodaya Hospital in Faridabad, and allegedly prepared fake surgery notes.
Agarwal license was cancelled for five months at different times in three different cases.
Officers are now poring over dozens of case files to stitch together the expanse and impact of the enterprise, even as more allegations flood police stations.
Thakur also alleged that the Jaitpur police station ignored a complaint he filed on May 21, 2019.
“A sub-inspector rank officer noted down all the details, but an FIR was not registered. Four months later, they gave me my son’s post-mortem report and told me that they had sent the viscera for forensic examination. After that, I never heard from the police,” he said.
“The post-mortem report and my complaint against the Agarwal Medical Centre have already been submitted at the Jaitpur police station,” Thakur wrote in his complaint on Tuesday.
Deputy commissioner of police (south) Chandan Chowdhary said, “We have received the complaint and are examining it. We’ll check with Jaitpur police station on what action was taken in this. We will also check with the government hospital where the boy was taken whether they wrote to Delhi Medical Council regarding this. Necessary legal action will taken as per probe”.
But as the hospital’s skeleton’s tumbled out of the closet over the past 10 days, Thakur, who had lost hope, realised he wanted to pick up where he left off.
“I realised that I was right that my son had died of medical negligence. That’s when I decided to approach the police again,” said Thakur.
Since his son’s death, Thakur has recounted the fateful day multiple times in his head – how the doctors ran no tests on the child before wheeling him in, how they didn’t keep him under observation and discharged him within hours, and how the child fell fatally sick the next day.
“I have two daughters. Our son was born 13 years after my wife and I got married. I was supposed to lean on him in my old age but this doctor stole that away from me. For a year after my son died, my wife slept next to his clothes. She was so devastated. Now we realise, we are not the only ones,” said Thakur.