Baby’s thumb cut: What happened after accident?

Infant deaths are the most common form of medical negligence in West Bengal. Adding to it, in a shocking incident on Sunday, a nurse allegedly cut off the thumb of an 8-day-old baby girl by “accident” while trying to cut a leucoplast for creating a channel to run saline – with scissors, said reports.


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The incident happened in the Balurghat General Hospital, located 440 kilometers away from Kolkata. After chopping off the thumb, the nurse in question dumped it in a dustbin to avoid charges.

According to Calcutta Telegraph, the baby was born on July 5 at the same hospital. However, due to diarrhoea and breathing trouble she was brought back to the place on July 10 and admitted to the Sick and Neonatal Care Unit (SNCU). Had everything gone well she would’ve been released today.

When the incident happened, the infant’s mother, Mamoni Mondal was present with her daughter.

In a report by CNN-IBN, talking about the nurse, she said: “The baby’s finger fell on the ground. I started screaming. She washed the scissors, and threw the finger in the dustbin and went. I called my husband and the nurses instantly.”

The same report by Calcutta Telegraph, informed that Babla Mondal, the new-born’s father who was waiting outside the neo-natal ward “rushed inside” after hearing a scream. He recalled, seeing his daughter’s hand bleeding and “the nurses on duty” not informing him anything about the incident.

On finding, the thumb in the dustbin the parents helplessly moved from one doctor to another, beseeching them to treat their child, “but none came forward.”

One hour later, Tapan Biswas who is the superintendent of the hospital arrived to the ward to what at the moment seemed on their “rescue” and recommended the parents to take the child to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in Silliguri – situated in Darjeeling district.

The same report by Calcutta Telegraph said that when the parents reached NBMCH at 8.00 am on Monday, the hospital authorities informed them that they do not have a plastic surgeon to perform the surgery and it was too late anyway to re-attach the thumb.

According to the same report by CNN-IBN, Babla Mondal said that his family has filed a police diary against the nurse and possesses the receipt copy as well. “We could not get her name, but we do have the time. The time will lead us to the nurse who did this,” he added.

Balurghat General Hospital has accepted all the charges and sent the nurse on a five-day leave.

The same CNN-IBN report said that Sukumar De, the chief medical officer of the hospital informed that the nurse was their staff nurse namely Rakhi Sarkar. “I created an enquiry committee, should get the report soon. I did not ignore the issue, it surrounds the sentiments of the baby’s family,” he added.

IANS reported that Biswas has already “received a report from the nursing superintendent,” and will investigate the report from the doctors today. “All expenses for the child’s treatment will be borne by us,” he added.

The question of why would a hospital not have the required infrastructure to meet emergency situations has become stale. In this situation the important question is why did the authorities from Balurghat General Hospital send the Babla and Mamoni Mondal to hospital like NBMCH that didn’t have the required infrastructure – much like them? Even if we suppose that they didn’t know, isn’t that a flaw too?

Another question that rings a bell is that why would a hospital keep a nurse who is so least responsible to cut off a thumb of a baby while administering a channel? Also is a meagre five-day leave enough to compensate for the baby’s loss, who will live her life forever without the thumb on her left palm?

Medical science says that replantation of amputated parts can occur if those are kept in a clean and sterile environment with dry ice and not exceeded more than eight hours. However, in this case Babla and Mamoni spent their time in requesting doctors to help their daughter.

Maybe had they had enough money and took the baby to a private hospital things could’ve been different today, but then India is a poor country and the majority population depends on the government hospitals. Isn’t it now time they take patients’ life seriously?

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