Nepal Medical Council has suspended a senior cardiologist for at least one year in a 2020 case in which a senior captain of Nepal Airlines Corporation, Rakesh JB Rana, died of a heart attack.

After more than a fourmonth-long investigation, the NMC found that senior cardiologist Rishi Khatri was guilty of not performing his responsibilities in a professional manner.

Pushpa Rana, late Rana's wife, had filed complaints at NMC on March 17 seeking action against Khatri and Rajeeb Kumar Deo, former civil aviation medical assessor of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

"During the investigation, Khatri was found guilty of not performing his responsibilities as a cardiologist," Krishna Prasad Adhikari, NMC registrar, said.

As per the NMC probe report, Khatri would not be allowed to practise as a cardiologist for one year. "Khatri should submit a one-year additional training and learning certificate to resume his duties after one year," the NMC report read. CAAN has also been asked to appoint trained medical assessors and seek NMC's help to do so. "CAAN should strictly consult medical experts while conducting health checkups of pilots aged over 40," the report said.

NMC has, however, remained silent on Deo, who worked as civil aviation medical assessor at CAAN when captain Rana was pilot-in-command at NAC. Deo, also a Nepali Army colonel, had tendered his resignation on February 16 from CAAN after he was accused of overlooking medical reports of the senior captain at the national flag carrier.

According to Pushpa, the sheer negligence of Khatri and Deo was to be blamed for the untimely death of her husband.

Rana passed away after suffering a massive heart attack on November 25. He was 62. "During his regular health checkup based on the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, Khatri issued negative treadmill test report that led us to believe that my husband was not suffering from any kind of heart-related ailment," she said.

On February 9, The Himalayan Times reported that Deo had overlooked Rana's TMT and echocardiography (ECHO) reports.

The late captain's daughter, Reewa RL Rana, said they would move court to seek compensation.

"We will also seek legal action against Khatri and Deo," she said. As per the evidences, CAAN's medical assessor, who has sole responsibility to approve pilots for flights, completely overlooked Rana's medical reports, while Deo is an oncologist and is not authorised to analyse ECG or ECHO reports.

Though TMT and ECHO records of Rana's test last conducted by Khatri in 2019 indicated the possibility of an impending heart attack, Deo appeared to term the report's findings, approving Khatri's recommendation, as 'normal' allowing Rana to command flights.

NMC sources claimed that Deo and the Nepali Army didn't cooperate with NAC team in examining Deo's negligence in Rana's case. "It was obvious that Deo was also guilty in the case as he had earlier resigned from CAAN, but the NA didn't respond properly while seeking details about Deo during the investigation," an NMC official said.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 24 2021, of The Himalayan Times.