Jaya death probe panel rejects Apollo’s demand for medical board, here's why

Apollo Hospitals had requested rescheduling of hearings till a medical board of expert doctors is constituted.
Jaya death probe panel rejects Apollo’s demand for medical board, here's why
Jaya death probe panel rejects Apollo’s demand for medical board, here's why
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In a setback to Apollo Hospitals, the Arumughaswamy Commission rejected its plea to form a medical board with 21 doctors from various specialities. In the 26-page order, a copy of which is with TNM, the commission called Apollo's demand belated and an attempt to scrap the evidence already submitted by its doctors.

Apollo hospitals had filed a petition on December 28 before the probe panel requesting for a team of doctors to be added to the panel to analyse the statements given by the doctors. Apollo stated the inability of the erstwhile one-man Commission to comprehend medical terminology used by its doctors, which led to the erroneous recording of testimonies.

The Commission rejected this petition and in its report dated January 22 stating that Apollo’s petition was filed with an intention to stall the Commission’s proceedings. “..Commission alone can evaluate the medical evidence and medical records produced during inquiry to see whether proper treatment had been provided. Medical Board cannot be constituted to play a supervisory role,” read the report.

Referring to the errors in recording medical terms like intubation which was pointed out by Apollo hospital in its petition, the Commission replied that these mistakes could have been corrected any time by those who were testifying and also added that those can still be corrected by Apollo in the presence of the necessary parties.

Dismissing Apollo’s contention of errors in recording medical terms could alter the outcome of the probe, the Commission stated that such mistakes happened because of the way in which doctors pronounced the word. “Even if it is typed wrongly the above said 3 words will not be the sole ground to appoint the medical board,” read the statement. The Commission also dismissed the hospital’s contention of wrong translation of the deposition and stated that the statements made by the doctors have been read and attested by the hospital’s legal manager.

Responding to Apollo hospital’s contention that the Commission did not have a medical board in place to read and understand medical records, the Commission stated that a team of four doctors and other specialists from the Madras Medical College were appointed and they had scrutinised the records of medical investigations like Echo, ECG, scans, X Rays etc of Jayalalithaa. “After verifying the records, they have been relieved immediately and the report is awaited and after getting the report only due procedure will be followed,” read the Commission’s response.

The commission also said that in cases of medical negligence, judges heading consumer forums decided on cases, and no medical boards are formed in these courts.

The Commission also accused Apollo hospital of not using the team of government doctors who were deputed at Apollo to attend to Jayalalithaa. “Though the team of government doctors were available at Apollo hospital on all days around the clock by way of rotation, their services were not utilised by the hospital. Further, it is painful to say that they were not even allowed to see the case sheet of the late Chief Minister, nor were they consulted in the treatment process,” read the Commission’s report.

Taking a jibe at Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan’s testimony, the Commission also raised question if appointing a medical board of world-class experts would not be an insult to Indian doctors. “In that case who has to search those world class doctors and who has to bear those expenses and why should the Commission do this exercise at the costs of the Public Exchequer?” the Commission asked.

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