Arguing that the absence of doctors assisting it may probably mislead the Commission of Inquiry looking into former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death, Apollo Hospitals on Fri filed a petition praying that the Justice (Retd.) A. Arumughaswamy Commission represent a 21-member medical board.
In an affidavit, the hospital’s manager-legal S.M. Mohan Kumar alleged that several serious errors had crept into depositions because the typist of the Commission could not comprehend the medical terminology. When translated and recorded into Tamil, “intubation” became “incubation;” “enterococcus” bacteria became “endocarditis” bacteria, “…in spite of doctors trying to explain and spell out terms over and over again,” the affidavit said.
Mr. Kumar said Apollo Hospitals’ doctors had found it a challenge to explain the medical facts to the Commission, as it did not have a medical professional assisting it. “….several such errors that are fatal to the Hon’ble Commission’s own understanding of the facts and circumstances surrounding the late Chief Minister’s treatment have been repeatedly appearing….If these faulty depositions are relied upon, it will mislead the Commission on scientific facts and medical science,” said the affidavit.
The affidavit pointed out that the Commission was unsuccessful in constituting a panel of doctors to examine the medical records submitted by Apollo and to assist it during hearings. The Commission had sought and obtained permission from the government to appoint a panel. The affidavit relied on a July 5, 2018 report in The Hindu to say that the Commission was considering scouting for doctors outside Tamil Nadu as it had not identified individuals willing to join its cause. “However, till date there are no doctors or any medical professional during the medical proceedings to assist Hon’ble Commission,” said the affidavit.
Mr. Kumar said that Jayalalithaa suffered from a “complex matrix of diseases and each one overlapped the other.” Hence, Apollo has prayed that the medical board have doctors representing 21 specialisations that represent Jayalalithaa’s illnesses: “cardiothoracic surgeon with experience in ECMOCPR” and “interventionist specialising in ARDS” are among their suggestions.
Apollo Hospitals has placed six conditions before the Commission. It wants the members of the medical board to be equally or more qualified than the doctors who treated Jayalalithaa. It also wants the doctors to be from around the globe “who would be able to provide a global perspective on the late Chief Minister’s medical treatment.” It said that only the medical board should examine the documents submitted by the hospital.
Apollo Hospitals also wants the medical board to maintain “complete privacy” of the medical records. The board should submit its final report to the Commission before it finalises its report. Apollo Hospitals also wants an opportunity to respond after.
Asked about the hospital’s affidavit, former judge of the Madras High Court K. Chandru said the Commission would have a tough time finding experts who can evaluate the work of those like the London-based intensivist Dr. Richard Beale, considered global experts.
“The Commission does not have the competence to evaluate medical evidence. They don’t have experts appointed to help them, though under the [Commissions of Inquiry] Act, it can appoint experts to help them. However, that is not going to come through because experts who can question these experts are few and far between,” he said.