Fortis doctor accused of negligence does not have recognised qualification to be Child Specialist: NMC tells Delhi HC

Fortis doctor accused of negligence does not have recognised qualification to be Child Specialist: NMC tells Delhi HC
Fortis doctor accused of negligence does not have recognised qualification to be Child Specialist: NMC tells Delhi HC

New Delhi: Scrutiny into the PG degrees of 2 senior doctors of Fortis Hospital has revealed that one of the two doctors, accused of medical negligence due to which a newborn fell into a vegetative state, does not have recognised qualification to be called a child specialist. Even the additional qualification of another doctor making him a neonatologist is not available with the NMC and requested the court to get it from the Delhi Medical Council (DMC). The information on these anomalies was recently submitted by the National Medical Commission (NMC) to the Delhi High Court.

Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that a single judge bench of the Delhi High Court headed by Justice Yogesh Khanna on February 23 directed the National Medical Commission (NMC), Delhi Medical Council (DMC) and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to look into post-graduate degrees of two senior doctors working as child specialists/ super-specialist at Fortis Hospital in Delhi. The bench had also sought responses from the two doctors who are running the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for critically ill newborn babies in Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.

The court was moved by a petition filed by the mother of a child, who alleged that the two doctors, whose ‘negligence’ left her son Devarsh Jain bedridden for life, claim to be specialist and super specialist, but they do not hold the requisite qualifications.

The petitioner’s plight started in August 2017 when the patient suffered severe brain bleeding at birth in August 2017 in Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh. The child was initially declared unwell by the hospital immediately after the delivery through C-section. The injury became known after several months when the child grew.

She had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court in 2019 and alleged that the hospital treated the patient for 12 days in ICU and discharged him on the basis of a wrong medical summary saying that he was normal.

“However, the truth was otherwise and the child was not healthy as certified by the accused doctors. As stated above, the child turned into a vegetable in the next 7 months and is presently suffering with unabated Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy along with “West Syndrome,” the petitioner had complained.

She had alleged before the court that the doctors concealed the facts as a consequence of which the child remained deprived of any medical treatment and kept suffering infantile spasm/seizures for over seven months at home till his brain got completely damaged.

This has rendered the child permanently disabled, both mentally and physically, she added. “.. he is suffering from acute epilepsy and cerebral palsy, and is diagnosed with a rare medical condition called the ‘West Syndrome’,” she alleged in her petition in 2019. An FIR was also lodged in this case in 2019.

During the pendency of these issues, the applicant, in a fresh plea on February 23, had alleged that she got hold of the educational certificates of the two doctors that time and they tend to show that they cannot practice as specialist and super specialist as they lack formal training and education for the same. The petitioner argued– “It was further discovered that, even today they are practising as Neonatologist and Pediatricians at Fortis Hospital in full fledged control of the Neonatal ICU, thereby putting lives of critically sick new born babies to imminent danger.”

Sachin Jain, who also happens to be the father of the victim child, and Ajay Kumar Agarwal, the advocates for the petitioner, had contended that Fortis Hospital had appointed one of the doctors as Director and HOD of Neonatology and that he was practicing as a super specialist neonatologist for treating neonates in Intensive Care unit, which he cannot legally do.

It was pointed out that the registration status and educational qualifications of Dr Vivek Jain and Dr Akhilesh Singh of the Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh are available on the Delhi Medical Council’s website. It shows that Dr Vivek Jain, who is a Director and Head of the Department of Neonatology in the hospital, has an MBBS degree from Kasturba Medical College in 2004 along with Membership of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health (MRCPCH) from the United Kingdom in 2007. Dr Vivek Jain also has a Fellowship Training in Neonatology from National Neonatology Forum (India) in 2016.

Regarding the other doctor, the petitioner in her application, alleged that Dr Singh too was operating as Senior Consultant Neonatology Paediatrics/Neonatology at the hospital, handling critically ill newborn babies in Neonatal ICU. However, his medical education certificates show that he obtained MBBS in 1996 and a Diploma in Child Health (Dip CH) from the Indian College of Maternal and Child health (ICMCH) of National Association for Voluntary Sterilization & Family Welfare of India affiliated to International Association for Maternal & Neonatal Health, Geneva.

“ICMCH is not accredited or recognised by MCI/NMC as a postgraduate medical qualification which is required to practice as a specialist (pediatrics), leave alone super specialist (neonatology),” senior lawyer Mohit Mathur had stated.

The petitioner had also demanded an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the matter.

However, the Medical Council already exonerated the hospital and held that “no medical negligence could be attributed on the part of the doctors of Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi in the treatment of the complainant’s baby…”

The hospital also defended the doctors and said they have unblemished medical records. The high court then asked the NMC, DMC, both the doctors, along with other parties, to file their responses.

Now, while submitting its stand before the court in an affidavit on Tuesday, the NMC has admitted that Dr Singh has got registration by the Delhi Medical Council only on the basis of his MBBS qualification.

According to NMC, except MBBS, Dr Singh’s all other qualifications are unrecognized.

“It is relevant to state that the registration granted by the Delhi Medical Council is only on the basis of the aforementioned MBBS qualification and there is no Additional Qualification Registration granted to Dr Akhilesh Singh on the basis of which he could be considered as a specialist,” the NMC said, as quoted by the Press Trust of India.

However, Dr Singh has defended himself in a separate affidavit and said that despite having completed his Diplomate in Paediatrics and Fellowship in Neonatology, neither does he practise as an independent specialist in paediatrics or neonatology nor does the hospital, on its website, advertise him as being a specialist in neonatology.

“Rather, the Applicant is employed as an Assisting Doctor in the Neonatology Department of the Hospital (Senior Consultant) and works in the NICU under the direct supervision/control of the Head of the Department/Director of Neonatology of the Hospital,” Dr Singh said.

So far as Dr Vivek Jain is concerned, the NMC submitted that the medical council granted registration for his MBBS degree and additional registration for his Membership of MRCPCH but the Commission is only aware of his MBBS degree.

The NMC said that as per the laid down registration process, primarily registrations are granted by the concerned State Medical Councils on their State Medical Registers and such information of registration is forwarded to the NMC.

“In the present case, the aforementioned registrations granted by the Delhi Medical Council on its State Medical Register are not being reflected in the Indian Medical Register as maintained by the National Medical Commission,” the NMC said.

The NMC has requested the court to examine the DMC’s affidavit to find out if additional registration norms have been complied with. The DMC is yet to file its affidavit, adds PTI.

The petitioner, however, said that NMC in its affidavit has failed to highlight another glaring discrepancy. She highlighted the Code of Medical Ethics Regulation which says “a physician shall not claim to be a specialist unless he has a special qualification in that branch”.

She alleged that if Dr Vivek Jain claims to be head of the neonatology department, he should have Doctorate of Medicine in Neonatology.

Dr Vivek Jain has dismissed the allegation and said that he has completed 2.5 years training in the field of neonatology with the Department of Neonatology, Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit at Medway Maritime Hospital, UK, which is a part of the National Health Services (NHS) Foundation Trust.

The matter is being heard by the single-judge bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna and the next hearing has been listed for April 19.

Read Also: PG degree of 2 senior Fortis Neonatologist, Pediatrician under scrutiny: HC seeks response from NMC, Delhi Medical Council

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