India: Land of ‘Dr. Deaths’

By: Staff Reporter

New Delhi, January 18 (G’nY News Service): The people of India attempts to emulate lifestyle of the developed nations at every opportunity, yet persistently refuses to absorb its professionalism, especially where the health of its people are at stake. Perhaps it is a fall out of being just too many – yet many Dr Deaths enjoy a revered and prosperous life, at the expense of the poor, the misinformed and the frightened masses.

A recent headline where a certain Narendra Nagareddy aka ‘Dr. Death’ was put behind bars after 12 of his patients died due to overdose on prescription medicines is a case in point. Reportedly, a total of 40 federal and local agents raided his offices and home to seize assets. Incidentally, he is an Indian origin psychiatrist residing in Jonesboro, Arkansas, United States.

According to legal documents, “36 of Nagareddy’s patients have died while being prescribed controlled substances, 12 of which have been confirmed by investigators through autopsy reports to have been the result of prescription drug intoxication.”

The  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  of the US, is a dreaded organization, perhaps feared even above the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as they conduct regular checks on all prescriptions and procedures, to see whether doctors hold any vested interest towards a preferred company or product, or whether procedures undertaken are resulting in risks or fatalities. Coupled with extensive and authentic data records, the US is able to pinpoint cases such as ‘Dr Death’ and put such people behind bars.

Cut to India: November 2014. Now, with a Wikipedia page ‘2014 Chhattisgarh sterilization death’, the popularity of the R K Gupta grows by leaps and bounds. His only fault is that he attempted to create a world record and help in the work of the Indian government by performing laparoscopic sterilization on 83 healthy women in 5 hours. Each woman undergoing sterilization was paid an incentive of around Rs. 1400  under a government scheme to help control population growth. Medical negligence led to 15 deaths, in addition to 70 women being hospitalized in critical condition and 20 being put on mechanical ventilation. Later reports did not allude to the final toll – yet, a new dimension emerged with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) seeking the release of the doctor, adding that arrested doctor should be released till his guilt is proved and evidence against him collected. Such is India’s story.

Several other cases have come to light, the recent being in August 2015, where an elderly man lost his life due to the negligence of a junior doctor during an operation in the megalopolis of Mumbai in one Sion hospital. Acting dean of the hospital Dr N D Moulik confirmed human error, yet no action was reported in the case in future releases.

There are several such instances, most of which do not come to be reported, as many are even unaware of deaths caused by incorrect medical procedures let alone over-dose of drugs. Cases of female infanticide and other illegal practices are in any case kept under the wraps, complicating matters further.

According to a news report in The Indian Express on 12th January, 2016, 64.9 per cent cases of medical negligence are pending in the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) alone. Out of 1,134 complaints registered between 1995 and 2015, only 397 cases has been addressed which constitutes only 35.1 per cent of the total complaints filed.

It is indeed a depressing scenario. There is no FDA in India – and not organization that undertakes any checks let alone collect data. The doctors are unfortunately so few and far between in our nation, that there seems to be an inherent urge to protect them, despite the atrocities. It would be thus fairly ineffectual to invoke the government and its bureaucrats to help punish the healers-turned-killers. We can at best leave it to God to save us, till the final day comes.

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