AIIMS fires senior resident doctor over nurse’s death

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The nurse, Rajbir Kaur, with husband Manish Behl

Taking a serious view of the death of a pregnant nurse, Rajbir Kaur, at AIIMS on February 4, the institute’s administration Tuesday terminated services of a senior resident of the anaesthesiology department, who had been accused of medical negligence.

The administration said the moves comes after the inquiry committee found the senior resident “guilty” of “wilful absence” of his duties.

It also said the AIIMS director will issue a “displeasure of memorandum” against another senior resident of the gynaecology department, involved in the surgery. A formal declaration will be issued against the doctor, and she will not be employed with AIIMS once her contract ends.

The administration also issued a showcause notice to the consultant on call of obstetrics and gynaecology, under whose supervision the surgery was performed, asking why action should not be taken against him. Officials said the panel found that the consultant on call “was not present for the emergency operation despite being informed”.

Following Kaur’s death, three senior residents — two from gynaecology and one from anaesthesia — had been accused of medical negligence. The administration had said they would be “off duty” till a final call is taken based on findings of the eight-member inquiry panel headed by Professor S C Sharma, head of the ENT department.

“Based on the committee’s findings and two rounds of meetings at the level of director, AIIMS, the following administrative action has been taken. An amount of Rs 10 lakh compensation shall be given to the nurse’s next of kin,” V Srinivas, deputy director, administration, AIIMS, said.

Officials said a “warning” will be issued to the junior resident in the anaesthesiology department as the panel found he had “left the operation theatre under pressure from residents of obstetrics and gynaecology”.

Officials told The Indian Express that the inquiry had found that Kaur’s was a “low-risk pregnancy” and that labour was was “progressing well” till there a was a “sudden drop in heart rate, necessitating emergency surgery”.

The administration also directed the head of department, anaesthesia, to “ensure that a consultant will be available” to supervise anaesthesiology services in ICU, main OT, radiology department, and maternity OT.

‘Baby was limp at the time of birth’

The eight-member inquiry committee looking into the death of nurse Rajbir Kaur has concluded that her “baby was limp”, indicating that the brain tissues possibly did not receive enough oxygen due to the difficult birth, sources said.

“When the newborn is out, it cries and moves its limbs. But in this case, the baby was limp. It can happen when the brain tissue is not receiving enough oxygen. This happens if labour is obstructed, or if there is an issue with the mother. It happens during difficult birth,” said a senior doctor.

Even as the AIIMS administration terminated a senior resident doctor, the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology has kept the findings of Kaur’s post-mortem “pending” and sought “queries” from the Delhi Police. Sources said a final opinion will be given after the police’s reply.

Kaur’s family said they were “satisfied” with the AIIMS administration’s decision. “But we are waiting for the police to register an FIR on a complaint filed by us,” said Manish Behl, Kaur’s husband.