It was the November of 2016. Bengaluru based Manoj MV and his wife, Lini, were slightly worried. Their seven-month-old son, Niranjay, seemed to have caught a stubborn cold which showed no signs of relenting.
But when they took him to People Tree Hospital in Dasarahalli on the morning of November 13, they did not anticipate that in a few days, they would have to watch Niranjay suffer a cardiac arrest which would impair him for life.
Manoj alleges that what happened in the hospital has left Niranjay, now a two-year-old, speech impaired and has also affected his motor skills.
"He had reached all his development milestones until then. Now, he is like a 3-month-old child. He needs support to even sit up, and struggles to wrap his fingers around things. He can only make sounds, but cannot speak," Manoj says.
What happened at the hospital
The first time Manoj and his wife took Niranjay to the hospital was on November 13, 2016. He was examined by the duty doctor and sent home.
But when the medication did not help, Niranjay was admitted to the hospital on the advice of Dr SA Reddy on November 22. He was shifted to the hospital’s Goraguntepalya branch the next day for further treatment. Niranjay was in the pediatric ICU for two days, and was shifted to a ward on November 25 after his condition improved.
Manoj says that until November 28, Niranjay was being administered antibiotic injections. However, Dr Supraja Chandrashekhar, the doctor they had been consulting, said on that day that he would no longer need injections.
The same evening, Niranjay also underwent an echo test (echocardiogram) which uses frequency of sound waves to project a picture of the heart and its arteries and valves. The report was found to be normal.
It was on the morning of November 29 that everything went wrong.
A hospital staff, Chiranjeeth Debnath, came into the ward around 6.20 am, Manoj narrates. “He had an injection. We enquired with him whether this was for nebulisation. He said, 'Madam has said it is injection'. We thought that it was a medicine for the cough.”
Much to their horror, Manoj and his wife saw their infant’s eyeballs rolling backwards, mouth and lips turning white, and his jaw contorting to one side. Before they knew it, Niranjay was unconscious.
A terrified Manoj ushered in the head nurse, who then questioned Chiranjeeth about the injection. “He held up two 1 ml bottles of adrenaline. The senior nurse just looked at him in shock, placed her hand on her head and started calling the doctor in charge,” Manoj recounts.
By this time, Niranjay had begun frothing in the mouth. Manoj picked him up in panic and as directed by a doctor at the nursing station, rushed him to the casualty ward.
There, he was told that his baby was suffering a cardiac arrest. A doctor then performed CPR on his small body. Niranjay was next shifted to the ICU, where he stayed in a critical condition on the mechanical ventilator for two days.
The couple allegedly tried to reach out to Dr Supraja to discuss Niranjay's case. “She pretended that she was always busy,” Manoj says in his complaint.
After two days, Niranjay’s condition stabilised. “But all his abilities like his neck control, rolling, crawling, sitting … etc already lost due to this incident (sic),” Manoj alleges in the complaint.
Manoj has now filed a complaint against the hospital to the Karnataka Medical Council, a copy of which is with TNM. He has also made a representation against Dr Chandrashekhar Chikkamuniyappa, Dr Supraja Chandrashekhar, Chiranjeeth Debnath, Sudheer KA and Dr Harish Kumar H of the hospital before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Bengaluru.
When this reporter reached out to People Tree Hospital for a response, they did not take questions. They merely gave a statement which makes no mention of the injections.
Confirming that the child’s condition deteriorated thrice, the final time requiring resuscitation and ventilator support, the statement says, “The parents were requested to bring the child for regular follow up, initially they were coming but later lost for follow up for more than a year. We are unaware of the various modes of treatment they have taken in this period (sic).” The hospital added that they would cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the matter.
Finding out what happened to their child
Manoj writes in his complaint that when he asked the doctors to include administration of the wrong medicine in the discharge summary on December 14, 2016, Dr Supraja told him that they did not know what happened to Niranjay except that he had no pulse when he was brought to casualty.
“We will only mention it was respiratory arrest in the discharge summary,” she allegedly told him.
The discharge summary, a copy of which is with TNM, mentions as one of the diagnosis, “respiratory arrest, shock, and secondary sepsis”.
Manoj was billed for Rs 2,91,000, of which his insurance covered Rs 1,73,000. When Manoj said that the hospital should give the insurance amount back as Niranjay needed further treatment, Dr Supraja allegedly accused him of lying and trying to take money from the hospital.
“On 16/12/2016, Dr Supraja Chandrashekhar gave a cheque of Rs 1,79,000 to me and waived the rest of the remaining amount,” Manoj says in the complaint.
People Tree Hospital meanwhile has made no mention of the payment issue in their statement and claim that their doctors are the ones being harassed by Manoj and his family: “We only came to know [about the case] recently when they are coming and harassing our doctors and other staff along with some unknown people and with media.”
Manoj says that while the doctors at the hospital assured him that Niranjay could recover from the damage his brain suffered due to the arrest, he found out after consulting another institute that his young son had developed a blood clot in his brain, had epileptic abnormalities and suffered damage to his right eye.
Unable to live as a family
Manoj tells TNM that the incident has shattered both him and his wife, but it’s the latter who has taken it very hard. Their older son of eight years often asks what is wrong with his brother, but they do not have answers.
“My elder one says that when Niranjay is able to run and walk, they will play,” Manoj shares, the sadness apparent in his voice.
In February last year, his family made the decision to live separately because Niranjay needed more care. “My wife and sons are living in our native place in Kannur. Niranjay has been going for physiotherapy and has been taking some Ayurvedic treatments. The improvement is very little – he tries, for example, to hold something now. He isn’t able to, still, but at least he is trying,” Manoj says.
Manoj says that while Niranjay’s mental faculties seem to be unaffected, they worry that he will not be able to lead a normal life. “Till we are there, we will take care of him of course. But all our dreams for his future have been dashed. We worry about what will happen if we are not around,” he says.
Working as a senior executive at a garment manufacturing company, Manoj says that he would like to live with his family again. “I am only able to visit them once in one or two months. But I cannot stop working now. I have to do it so we can continue taking care of Niranjay,” he says.