Chandigarh: Amid allegations that callousness of doctors led to the death of a 16-year-old girl, PGIMER on Saturday blamed "overcrowding" and unending rush of patients for the causality.

However, PGIMER also maintained that it was premature to say at this stage whether the incident was a case of medical negligence and for that a broad based inquiry will have to be conducted.

Director of the premier institution said they were open to holding an independent enquiry by any external agency.

"We really feel sorry for the child lost in the whole episode. The (PGI's) fact-finding committee deliberated and looked into the medical aspects of the patient and came to the conclusion that basic problem is overcrowding....PGI is overloaded and the doctors are overworked," Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research's Director, Dr YK Chawla said addressing a news conference here this evening.

The parents of 16-year-old Anupama have alleged that failure to get timely medical attention resulted in her death as doctors had been "apathetic" to her condition.

On July 17, Anupama Sarkar, a Class X student of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 18, and a resident of Mauli Jagran complex here, met with an accident.

Anupama's leg was crushed under a Chandigarh Transport Undertaking bus here, and she died on July 24 at the Advanced Trauma Centre of PGIMER.

Facing volley of questions over the incident, Dr Chawla was on backfoot on most occasions in the absence of complete update on the sequence of events that led to Anupama's death.

Chawla said that Anupama was probably 9th or 10th patient in the list to be operated, with more serious patients numbering 8 or 9 waiting in line ahead of her.

"Each surgery takes about 6-8 hours," he said. However, when a reporter asked that hardly a surgery out of those eight being mentioned had been carried out, Chawla was left without an answer.

"I will have to find out," was his refrain when asked that the fact-finding committee had not kept him updated and in dark. Asked why the girl's parents had not been included in the PGI's fact-finding committee, Dr Chawla replied, "this was an internal probe to go into the medical aspects of the incident. However, we don't mind if the scope of the committee is extended".

Asked if Anupama's death was a case of medical negligence, he said, "it will be premature to say anything at this stage".

He said unlike institutions like AIIMS at Delhi, PGI does not refuse any patient irrespective of whatever may be his/her condition.

Dr Chawla refuted allegations that the girl's bandages had not been changed frequently leading to infection.

He said that when she was taken for surgery two days after her admission, her condition was found to have suddenly worsened.

A day after Anupama's death, the hospital had set up a four-member committee that also included head of the orthopaedic department, Dr M S Dhillon, to look into Anupama's case. The report was submitted to Dr Chawla on Friday.

"We did all we could to revive her, but unfortunately, she could not be saved," he said.

Asked what was the way out to lessen PGIMER's burden, Chawla said it has been suggested to inter-link two other government hospitals in Chandigarh, one in Sector 16 and the other in Sector 32.

"It's a herculean task, but steps will have to be taken. We need to have good network between the three hospitals so that less serious patients can be taken care of by them," he said.

Narrating the sequence of events that led to Anupama's death, her father Amit Sarkar, who hails from West Bengal, said that the hospital doctors had told them that she required an immediate surgery in the hospital emergency, kept on "delaying" it on the pretext that more serious cases had to be attended first.

"Due to the delay in surgery, Anupama developed gangrene and the infection later on spread to other parts of the body. When her leg was amputated on July 19 night, by then it was too late," a crestfallen Sarkar said, adding that "negligence of doctors" had cost his daughter's life.


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