‘What else is it?’ asks family of newborn who lost nose, after Fernandez Hospital says it’s not negligence

The family said their son was admitted to the NICU as the doctors recommended phototherapy, but the hospital claims he was given nCPAP treatment.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Jul 10, 2023 | 9:26 AMUpdatedJul 11, 2023 | 12:48 AM

Arshiya Unnisa Khan gave birth to the baby boy on 7 June at Fernandez Hospital. (Creative Commons)

Following the tragedy of a newborn child suffering nose necrosis owing to “excessive phototherapy”, Fernandes Hospital in Hyderguda, Hyderabad, claimed innocence, on 8 July — after a case was registered against it the previous day.

In its statement, the hospital said that it wanted to reaffirm that there was no negligence, only transparency throughout the “challenging journey”.

Managing Director of Fernandez Hospital and Senior Gynecologist Dr Evita Fernandez called the incident “unfortunate” but reiterated that “it was NOT negligence.”

However, the family of the newborn child is standing its ground that it is negligence at the hospital’s end.

“Forget everything, prima facie what does the photo (of the infant) tell? What is it if not negligence? Is it a normal nose? We can all say different things, but the photo speaks for itself,” the father of the child, Imran Khan, told South First.

His wife, Arshiya Unnisa Khan gave birth to the baby boy on 7 June at Fernandez Hospital.

Also Read: Consumer commission asks hospital to pay ₹20 lakh as patient dies

Premature baby?

In the FIR, Imran stated that that his son was born “heathy” after which a doctor at the hospital recommended that they keep him in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for phototherapy — a special type of light treatment.

Phototherapy is treatment with a special type of light. (Wikimedia Commons)

Phototherapy is treatment with a special type of light. (Wikimedia Commons)

However, the hospital, in its statement, called the baby premature, “arriving seven weeks early, on 8 June, at just 33 weeks of gestation”.

It added that to provide the best medical facilities, the baby was given a respiratory distress treatment known as Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (nCPAP) to support the lungs.

But according to Imran and his wife, the hospital staff did not pay proper attention while their son was in “phototherapy” treatment.

“Premature babies have been born before. My son’s nose was getting red when I saw him after phototherapy in the NICU. The duty doctors said that it would be fine, but after 2-3 days, while cleaning the nose, my son’s skin fell off. Again when I asked the NICU head doctor, he said that the nose is recovering from the damage caused due to excessive heating during phototherapy and again I believed their version,” Imran explained.

On 22 June, the child’s nose turned black and a part of it got removed. “When I consulted the doctors, they admitted it happened due to their negligence. They said that they would provide medical assistance and would bear the expenses of the treatment.”

Also Read: Hospital asked to pay compensation for death during C-section

Hospital’s defense

According to Fernandez Hospital, after putting the baby on nCPAP interface, the medical team noticed the development of a nasal ulcer, one of the complications it said is common in premature children due to delicate and immature skin.

It added that the team, despite their best efforts, could not entirely prevent tissue loss.

Acknowledging the emotional toll on the family, Fernandez Hospital claimed that it had informed the family about developments and potential risks at all stages of the treatment.

Managing Director Dr Fernandez said that the hospital would provide all possible medical support to the child, while ruling out the possibility of any sort of negligence.

South First contacted Fernandez Hospital for further clarity, but the latter declined to comment.

Dr Vijay Kumar Challuri, a paediatrician at the ESI Hospital in Karimnagar district, told South First, “It is not phototherapy as there is no focus on the nose in that treatment. So, it’s only nasal treatment if the baby requires additional oxygen to overcome breathing issues.”

Noting that nose necrosis is one of the rarest complications, he added that the tip of the fallen nose tissue could be “reconstructed” anytime.

“If lung support is not given in a timely manner, in such situations, the baby would not have survived.”

Also Read: Family accuses government hospital of amputating toddler’s arm

‘Pay compensation for promises’

The Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (nCPAP) treatment for respiratory distress

The Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (nCPAP) treatment for respiratory distress. (Supplied)

Before lodging a case against the hospital, the father of the child said that he asked the authorities to pay compensation for the damage done.

“The doctors said that a nose cap would be put on my son’s nose when he turns two. It would be changed every two years till he is 14 years old. Then a surgery would be done. They said that they would bear the expenses,” Imran said.

However, he demanded that the authorities deposit a sum of ₹50 lakh in the child’s bank account, owing to the lapse they committed.

“It is a life-affecting error for which there will be long-term treatment. That is why I asked for the money,” Imran said.

He, however, alleged that the hospital responded abruptly. “They talked rudely to me then and even threatened me of dire consequences. I had no other option than to lodge an FIR. The police is saying that they will arrest the concerned doctor soon,” Imran added.

He said that his family is worried that the hospital will pull out on its promise to bear the medical expenses in the future. “No other hospital would do this treatment for free,” Imran noted.

‘Forcing’ discharge

Imran and Arshiya are not ready to leave the hospital until a common ground is arrived at and they get assurance of their son’s journey to recovery.

“We are scared to expose him to air. What if he catches an infection or anything else? Two days back he caught a cold. For that we had to touch his nose and it hurt him,” Imran said.

However, he noted that the hospital is “forcing” them to take a discharge and take the child home. “How can we leave like this without any clarity?” he questioned.

Narayanguda police station has registered a case under Section 337 (negligence endangering human life) of the Indian Penal Code.

“We are waiting for the inquiry report of the Hyderabad Medical Board. Only after that we will be taking the inquiry further. The report is expected to come in a few days,” Narayanguda SHO G Srinivasu told South First.

Imran’s family is being assisted by Hyderabad-based social activist Shabaz Khan.

“We are in the process of writing a detailed letter to the Medical Council of India (MCI) against the hospital’s negligence. We will also register a case in the consumer forum,” Khan told South First.