The bitter tussle between Health Minister A. Ramadoss and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director P. Venugopal escalated further Thursday after the latter suspended head of Cardio Thoracic department Sampath Kumar for alleged medical negligence.
Venugopal reportedly "dug out" a March 2007 medical case record, charged Kumar with negligence in the death of a boy, and placed him under suspension. The director and a group of senior doctors alleged that the 12-year-old boy had died after Kumar performed heart surgery on him.
"We are shocked to know about the suspension of Kumar. The director has no authority to suspend a senior faculty of the institute. He is not a group C or D employee," said a senior faculty member under condition of anonymity.
The action came as a reaction to Kumar's report to Ramadoss that Kumar's junior colleague A. K. Bisoi's negligence killed a patient last month.
Bisoi allegedly left a screw, albeit unintentionally, inside the heart of a 75-year-old patient who later died. Without taking the case record to the director, Kumar complained to Ramadoss, who is also the president of AIIMS.
While Ramadoss set up a committee comprising four senior doctors including Kumar and Dean R.C. Deka to look into the charge of negligence in the Bisoi case, Venugopal set up another committee into the same case. The second committee found that the patient did not die of medical negligence.
The director gave a clean chit to Bisoi but Ramadoss in his capacity as AIIMS president suspended the doctor.
Many doctors at India's premier medical education institute see Kumar's suspension Thursday as retaliatory action by Venugopal.
"This is gross injustice. Before we submit our report to the AIIMS president, institute administration has taken action against Kumar," Deka told IANS.
A senior faculty member further said that Kumar was punished for his closeness to Ramadoss.
"In the tussle between Ramadoss and Venugopal, others are falling prey. I think Kumar's suspension was more due to his affinity to Ramadoss than bringing the medical negligence of another doctor to public notice," said the doctor.
Venugopal and Ramadoss are at loggerheads for the last couple of years and the fight reached a flash point when AIIMS became the epicentre of the anti-quota movement across the country.
Resident doctors of AIIMS led a movement against the government's decision to provide 27 percent reservation to other backward classes (OBCs) in institutes of higher learning.
Ramadoss had sacked Venugopal but the decision was put on hold after the director moved the Delhi High Court.