Even before the furore over the kidney racket masterminded by an Indian doctor has died down comes the report of a doctor who went about merrily implanting stents in a deal with stent suppliers.
Blood flow in the human body is slowed or blocked when plaque builds up on the inner walls of arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. The resulting disease is called atherosclerosis.
In such situations, coronary angioplasty is resorted to. In the procedure, a balloon is used to open the blockage in the coronary (heart) artery. In 70 per cent of angioplasty cases, a stent is also implanted.
The stent is a lattice-shaped metal tube that acts as a scaffold, remaining in place permanently to help keep the artery open so that blood flows unhindered.
Thus stents are a boon to heart patients. But when placed in normal hearts, stents can cause clotting, leading to heart attacks. That is precisely what Dr.R.K.Khullar of New Delhi has been charged with doing in exchange for foreign trips and lucrative gifts.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) says Dr Khullar performed angioplasty needlessly in scores of cases and implanted stents after fabricating grossly exaggerated reports about blockage in arteries.
A lab technician who worked with Khullar for over four years told the CBI that during his association with the doctor he had never seen Khullar giving a normal angioplasty report to any patient.
Khullar's case came under the scanner after one such patient, Brahm Singh, filed a complaint against him with the Ministry of Health.
On 8 December 2004, Khullar had conducted Singh's angiography and claimed to have found 75 per cent blockage in two of his arteries. So the doctor suggested angioplasty followed by stenting. The whole procedure would cost Singh Rs 1,58,000, he was told.
But Singh sought a second opinion and was shocked to be told that he did not have any blockage at all. Singh then made a complaint to the Ministry of Health.
A committee constituted to probe the issue found that Khullar did not give the angiography film to the patients and that in most of the films, names of the patient pasted for the angioplasty did not coincide with the angioplasty done that day.
A New Delhi court has ordered framing of cheating and forgery charges against Khullar, a cardiologist with the government-run Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and a senior resident doctor, Ravi Vishnu Prasad who was an accomplice in the preparation of false reports. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjeev Jain has fixed February 20 for framing of charges against the two accused.