EDITORIAL: Wrong treatment

One fails to understand why the attending doctors did not refer the child to some other hospital for better expert advice

Nepal is not new to reports about doctors’ negligence and errors in the treatment of patients, leading to complications, death or disability for life. Medical treatment in a private hospital in Nepal is very expensive, but still people opt for it, with the belief that money will cure them of their disease and agony. But time and again, even prestigious hospitals are in the news for giving the wrong medication and lengthening the stay of the patients unnecessarily. Nepal Medical Council (NMC) has just concluded that the doctors of Kathmandu-based Grande International Hospital committed three mistakes in the treatment of the child born of Sanjeev Neupane and Ekta Ghimire, which led to one complication after another, with the child, now 18 months old, fighting for his life. The incident is just one of a series of inaccurate diagnoses and wrong treatments that the hospital has been blamed for in recent times. The NMC has noted that Neupane and Ghimire’s child had been given an overdose of paracetamol while there was a misunderstanding between the radiologist and neurosurgeons on the size of the excess cerebrospinal fluid that had built up in the brain. The NMC committee has also pointed out that a CT scan or MRI had been delayed against the advice of the radiologist.

All in all, five surgeries of the head and months of stay in the expensive hospital have cost the parents millions of rupees in treatment costs, while being little informed about the treatment procedures. The mistakes committed by the hospital and doctors go against the medical code of conduct, which requires a doctor to be God like in his ability, knowledge and demeanour, but human in caring for his patients. In the decision letters given to the hospital and doctors, the NMC has asked the paediatrician involved in the treatment of the child be kept in probation period of one week under the supervision of an expert, while the neurosurgeon has been given a last warning. It must be really traumatic for the parents to be looking after their child, knowing fully well that he will never regain his health.

The NMC is not in a position to dictate if the hospital should pay compensation to the victim’s family for the medical misadventure. And even if the hospital were to pay, no amount of financial reparation is going to compensate for the trauma caused to the parents and their child. To prevent such bitter occurrences in the future, it is only right that the doctors should take the medical code of ethics to heart. In the above incident, it is clear that the standard care procedures were not followed, which amounts to medical negligence. As the NMC has noted, no humanitarian concern had been shown even when the health condition of the baby was critical. One fails to understand why the attending doctors did not refer the child to some other hospital for better expert advice instead of experimenting with one treatment after another, which continued for months. Medical service has now become something like a consumer good, where the patients are the consumers and medical personnel, the service providers. So, patients will seek delivery of quality medical service, especially if they have paid good money for it.

Protect public land

The tendency of encroaching on public land belonging to forest or public institutions is on the rise due to the government’s inaction. Minister for Land Management and Cooperatives Padma Aryal the other day said over 13,000 bighas of land had been captured by individuals across the country. This is a serious case, and the government must take strong action against those occupying public land.

A report from Banke states that 76 families had been occupying over three bighas of land belonging to Adarsha Secondary School in Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolis-20 for many years. The houses and sheds built over there were demolished with the help of the local administration only after a complaint was lodged against the encroachers with Hello Sarkar. The land was registered in the school’s name some 40 years ago. But the encroachers, who claim to be landless squatters, have vowed to recapture it. The land should be used for educational purpose only, and the school management needs to protect its land by putting up fences around it. As far as the squatters’ problem is concerned, the government should find an alternative to resettle them elsewhere along with the provision of jobs available at the local levels.