Kerala government to introduce medical audit to deal with negligence cases

A government hospital doctor was suspended for allegedly operating on the tongue of a child instead of surgically removing her sixth finger.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 25, 2024 | 10:13 AMUpdatedMay 25, 2024 | 10:13 AM

Medical negligence in Kerala

In the wake of several complaints of medical negligence against state-run hospitals, the Kerala government on Friday, 25 May, said it will introduce medical audit in all of its hospitals to investigate such cases.

The plan to implement a medical audit was revealed by state Health Minister Veena George while speaking to PTI. She said that a medical audit will be done by an expert committee to re-evaluate the treatment protocol given to a patient.

The minister said that all government medical colleges had a death audit but it was stopped in between.

“We, however, have reintroduced the death audit in all medical colleges and have told them to follow it strictly. Concerning medical audit, we are formulating the protocol and we will implement it,” she said.

The minister’s statement came amid allegations of medical negligence that continue to haunt the Government Medical College Hospital in Kerala’s Kozhikode and Alappuzha. Last week, a man at Kozhikode hospital had alleged that an implant meant for another patient was wrongly inserted into his broken hand.

His allegation surfaced just days after a doctor was suspended for allegedly operating on the tongue of a four-year-old girl, instead of surgically removing the child’s sixth finger.

Related: Kerala doctor suspended after operating on child’s tongue instead of finger

Death Audit

She said the death audit – investigating the cause of death and the treatment protocols followed – which was once implemented in the government medical colleges, has stopped “somehow”.

“The government was very serious about this and we have reintroduced it in all medical colleges,” the minister said.

George said the World Health Organisation (WHO) also has a five-point checklist, cross-checking the medical care imparted in hospitals, especially in operation theatres.

“We are introducing the medical audit and the protocol is being finalised,” she said.

In recent weeks, several complaints regarding medical negligence have been raised in government hospitals, especially in Alappuzha and Kozhikode Medical Colleges.

The government has initiated an inquiry and action has been taken against doctors who were found guilty of negligence, the minister said.

Related: Kerala patient alleges he was fitted with wrong implant during surgery, hospital says claim is ‘baseless’

Recent incidents of medical negligence

At Alappuzha Medical College, it was found out that the doctors have been spending more time on private practices, compromising their duty in government hospitals.

“The government is taking this issue very seriously and appropriate action will be taken against them. We have reports regarding government doctors indulging in private practices, not just from Alappuzha Medical College but from other hospitals as well. Many have been transferred based on the report,” the minister said.

She said the Alappuzha District Medical Officer submitted a report to the government on 23 May and appropriate action would be taken against those found guilty.

The minister, however, said that the media should abstain from painting all government hospitals as bad.

“We have doctors who work for 15 to 18 hours a day in government hospitals. Initially, we had only 30 percent of people who depended on government hospitals and now it is more than 60 percent.

“So, our government hospitals are centres of excellence and please do not tarnish them using isolated cases,” George said.

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(Edited by Neena with PTI inputs)