No specific person at fault for child's death after circumcision: health directorate

In its report to the High Court, the regulator presented four recommendations to avoid any such deaths in the future

Senior Correspondent
Published : 28 Jan 2024, 08:29 AM
Updated : 28 Jan 2024, 08:29 AM

The High Court has received the Directorate General of Health Services' report over the death of Ayan Ahmed, the five-year-old boy who died during a circumcision procedure at United Medical College Hospital.

The report did not identify a specific cause of death. Instead, it noted that a nebuliser and an inhaler were administered to Ayan without informing doctors prior to the operation.

The report did not hold any particular person liable for the child’s death. Instead, it presented four recommendations to avoid such deaths in the future.

DGHS Deputy Director (Law) Parimal Kumar Pal submitted the report to the bench of Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam and Justice MD Atabullah on behalf of the director general.

Deputy Attorney General Tushar Kanti Roy then presented the 15-page report to the court. Advocate AHM Shahjahan Akondo Masum appeared on behalf of the plaintiff at the time.

The court fixed Monday for the submission of the report through an affidavit.

“Ayan was suffering from childhood asthma,” the investigation report said. “He sometimes need nebulisers and inhalers for his breathing problems. He was given a nebuliser and inhaler in the waiting room before the circumcision operation. Doctors were not informed about the matter.”

“Ayan’s bleeding during the operation is believed to have been normal.”

The four recommendations offered by the DGHS are:

  • Doctors should appoint more than one anaesthesiologist

  • Patients and their relatives must be properly informed about the risks of anaesthesia and operations

  • ICU facilities must be available at hospitals

  • Hospitals can only begin operations after approval from the government

“The recommendations given as points did not note anything about the cause of death. Instructions were given to submit the inquiry report as an affidavit. Details will be available later,” Deputy Attorney General Roy said.

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 seeking 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.