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April 24, 2019

Health body fines Darul Sehat Rs0.5m, wants 96 staffers fired


April 24, 2019

The Sindh Health Care Commission (SHCC) has advised the Pakistan Nursing Council to take disciplinary action against a midwife and a nursing assistant who wrongly administered a drug to nine-month-old Nashwa Ali, resulting in severe brain damage and ultimately her death.

The SHCC also imposed a fine of half a million rupees on the Darul Sehat Hospital over negligence and asked its administration to fire 95 unskilled nursing and paramedical staff as well as the recruitment incharge.

“We have finalised our investigation into the incident that took place at the Darul Sehat Hospital and imposed a fine of Rs500,000, which is the maximum penalty we can impose in accordance with our act,” SHCC Chairman Dr Minhaj Qidwai told The News on Tuesday.

“Furthermore, we have found a midwife, Sobia, and a nursing assistant, Moiz, guilty in this case and have asked the Pakistan Nursing Council to cancel their registration and bar them from working as health professionals.”

The investigation report stated that 95 nurses and paramedical staff at the hospital were found to be untrained and unregistered, and recommended their immediate suspension and termination. The commission recommended that the recruitment incharge should also be immediately sacked.

At the start of this month a nursing assistant had administered Nashwa potassium chloride in concentrated form intravenously, causing her heart to stop. She was resuscitated for around 45 minutes, during which her brain suffered irreparable damage. She died at another private hospital during treatment on Monday morning.

After Nashwa’s father registered his complaint with the SHCC, the commission inspected Darul Sehat twice and found several gaps in their health care delivery and saw the need of major improvements, especially in the areas of human resource management, recruitment of skilled and trained staff, and management of health issues.

“Only 70 paramedical and nursing staff members were found to be fully trained out of a total of 165 employees,” said Dr Qidwai. “We have also directed the hospital to get its paramedical and nursing staff trained at the earliest and review its human resource management policy immediately.”

He said they had sent a copy of their report and details of the action taken by them to Qaiser Ali, the girl’s father, while copies had also been sent to the health department, the Supreme Court and others.

Replying to a question, he said the SHCC does not wish to shut down the hospital because it serves some 300,000 people in Gulistan-e-Jauhar and the adjoining areas. Instead of closing down health facilities, the commission focuses on improving health care services across the province, he added.

SHCC’s mandate

A two-member committee comprising National Institute of Child Health Director Prof Jamal Raza and another eminent paediatrician Dr MN Lal have submitted their investigation report to the health department, asking it to strengthen the SHCC so that such incidents can be prevented.

“Under the provincial law, only the commission has the mandate to investigate such incidents, take action over negligence at health care facilities and impose fines and penalties on those found involved in malpractice,” Health Secretary Saeed Awan told The News.

He said the SHCC is an independent body, and according to the law, it is not supposed to send its report to the health department, adding that the commission has the authority to close down any hospital or any department of any health care facility by cancelling their registration.

“They are already sealing clinics and health care establishments being run by quacks, and so far they have sealed several dozen such facilities across Karachi and in the rest of Sindh. If they feel that any hospital is not being run properly, they have the authority to shut it down.”

Decision rejected

Nashwa’s family has expressed dissatisfaction at the SHCC’s decision to impose a fine on Darul Sehat and the recommendation of disciplinary action against them, saying that the hospital should not be allowed to function any more so that the lives of hundreds of other babies could be saved.

“We reject the eyewash action by the SHCC; we will not accept anything less than the closure of this facility that not only killed our daughter but also killed several other people on the pretext of medical treatment,” said a relative of the family, adding that Nashwa’s parents were not in the condition to speak to the media.

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