Irked by DGHS report, High Court orders fresh probe into Ayan's death

It forms a five-strong committee to investigate the child's death and report back within 30 days

Published : 20 Feb 2024, 08:15 AM
Updated : 20 Feb 2024, 08:15 AM

The High Court has rebuffed the Directorate General of Health Services' probe report on the death of five-year-old Ayan Ahmed during a circumcision procedure at United Medical College Hospital, ordering a fresh investigation.

On Tuesday, the bench of Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam and Justice Md Atabullah formed a five-strong panel tasked with assessing whether the child's death was due to medical negligence and identifying those responsible.

The committee, headed by Prof Maksudul Alam from Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital, has been asked to report back within 30 days.

Advocate ABM Shahjahan Akanda Masum represented the petitioner. Advocate Saeed Ahmed Raza appeared on behalf of United Medical College Hospital, while Deputy Attorney General Tushar Kanti Roy represented the state.

"The court was not satisfied with the health directorate's report. So it formed a new committee to re-investigate the matter," said Shahjahan.

It comes after the court slammed the DGHS report as 'eyewash' and 'ridiculous' during a hearing on Jan 29, calling it an attempt to evade liability.

DGHS Deputy Director (Law) Parimal Kumar Pal submitted the report on behalf of the director general on Jan 28.

However, the report did not identify a specific cause of death, nor did it apportion blame to any particular person. Instead, it noted that a nebuliser and an inhaler were administered to Ayan without informing doctors prior to the operation.

The report also outlined four recommendations to avoid such deaths in the future.

Ayan was admitted to the medical college's hospital for a circumcision procedure on Dec 31. However, he did not regain consciousness after being administered anaesthesia.

Ayan was subsequently transferred to United Hospital in Gulshan and placed on life support. He passed away on Jan 7.

His father, Shamim, later started a case at Badda Police Station alleging medical negligence. Shamim said he suspected there was something wrong with the anaesthetic administered to his son.

The case implicated United Medical College Hospital's anaesthesiologist Syed Sabbir Ahmed, surgeon Tasnuva Mahjabin, an anonymous director and other unidentified employees of the medical college hospital and United Hospital.

Shamim alleged the medical college hospital applied total anaesthesia without the family's permission while United Hospital barred them from taking Ayan to another hospital.

It was discovered that the administration had been running United Medical College and Hospital without proper registration. The Directorate General of Health Services also ordered the hospital to halt all operations.

Advocate Masum petitioned the High Court on Jan 9 to punish the hospital administration for negligence and seek compensation. In addition, it called for the hospital's licence to be revoked and an order barring new patients from being admitted.

The court heard the petition for the first time on Jan 14 and gave the DGHS a week to submit its report on the case.

In addition, it ordered the agency to compile a list of all approved and unapproved hospitals and clinics.

Ayan's father was subsequently made a plaintiff in the petition, and he demanded Tk 50 million in compensation.

The health secretary, the director general of health services, and other officials were named as defendants in the case.