KARACHI: The Supreme Court took up the case of the 10-year-old Amal Umar’s death and demanded a report from the doctors’ committee which had been tasked to ascertain the cause of death and whether there was any negligence on the part of the hospital where she was taken.
At the SC’s Karachi registry, the three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Musheer Alam and Justice Muneeb Akhtar, was hearing the case that originated with a suo motu notice over the incident.
The attorney general (AG) briefed the court that a committee of doctors had been constituted to ascertain the cause of Amal’s death. The Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the committee have been made too, said the AG.
During the hearing, the victim’s parents expressed doubts with the composition of the committee.
The CJP remarked that they wanted to do something for children. “Amal has made a huge sacrifice,” he noted. “We don’t want anyone else to go through this.” The CJP asked what action the government had taken against those who had shown negligence, adding that Amal’s family must get a suitable remuneration.
Speaking to the media after the hearing, Amal’s parents said that the National Medical Centre was trying to blame them for the negligence.
“They [NMC] are now saying that they were stopping us from taking the child but we wanted to take her to some other hospital,” said Amal’s father, Umar.
“Why would we take our daughter from one hospital to another?” he questioned.
“The hospital says that when the child was brought in, she was already dead,” he said, pointing out the contradictions in the hospital management’s statements. The court, he added, has summoned the NMC management today (Saturday).
Cost of treatment
The same bench also took up the case of exorbitant costs of treatment at private hospitals and summoned details of charges at such facilities today (Saturday).
The CJP remarked that all private hospitals would have to reveal how much money they were minting.
“The room in which Sharjeel Memon was kept at Ziauddin hospital – what is the rent of that room?” asked the CJP, adding that the room looked more luxurious than a room in a big hotel.
The hospital’s administration responded that the daily rent for Memon’s room was Rs35,000. The CJP then inquired about Dr Asim Hussain’s whereabouts. When told that Dr Hussain was abroad, the CJP questioned who had allowed him to leave the country. “Dr Asim had requested not to put his name on the Exit Control List and that he won’t go overseas,” recalled the CJP. Dr Hussain’s lawyer said that an accountability court had allowed Dr Hussain to go abroad.
The CJP questioned how many patients were treated free of charge at Ziauddin hospital within the last 15 days. “How many beds have been designated for the poor and how availed the facility?” he questioned, adding that the hospital administration must also divulge the charges for an oxygen ventilator and other facilities.
CJP Nisar remarked that treating patients should not be as profitable as running sugar mills. “Helping a poor person is everyone’s responsibility,” said the CJP. The court demanded the rate list from all private hospitals, directing them to submit the information to the court today (Saturday).