Glaring lapses plague AIIMS in child molestation case

Hospital failed to file complaint with police and conduct transparent investigation

sonal

Sonal Matharu | February 3, 2011




Ten days after a child molestation case by a senior resident doctor of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) made headlines, the health ministry and the AIIMS administration finally sacked the accused doctor on Wednesday night based on the hospital’s internal investigation into the matter.

The country's premier hospital has, however, failed to set an example in the matter. Its response is a case study in glaring lapses, which include the failure to file an immediate complaint with the police and a transparent internal investigation.

To begin with, the hospital should have filed an FIR with the police. Instead, the hospital constituted an internal committee for prevention of sexual harassment.

On the night of January 23, the victim was in the ICU ward-B of the neurosurgery department of AIIMS, recovering from a minor surgery, when the accused doctor took him to the doctors’ duty room for final examination before discharging him the next day. The eight-year-old boy narrated the events of the night to his parents who in turn informed the AIIMS administration.

The hospital, however, tried to cover up the matter rather than informing the police about the crime which took place inside its premises. Faced with the apathy shown by the hospital, the boy’s parents filed a complaint with the Hauz Khas police station on January 31. The police then sent the child for examination at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital the same day.

AIIMS had not even bothered to conduct an examination when the matter was brought to its notice. What's more, its committee’s findings and the methodology it followed remain a secret, even after the investigation is complete and action has been taken on its basis. 

Each day's loss in such a case can lead to destruction of crucial evidence, says a senior doctor at AIIMS. That no establishing evidence will emerge from the examination report now seems a scary likelihood.

The director of AIIMS, who did not act swiftly in such a sensitive matter and later refused to comment on it, is squarely responsible for the mess. The incident, perhaps the first of its kind in the hospital's 54-year history, has surely dented its image.

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