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Rampant abuse of power by hospital staff

T S Sudhir

Saturday, May 10, 2003 (Hyderabad):

In the horrible baby mix up in Hyderabad, the police are still searching for Latha's missing baby boy.

Hyderabad's Maternity hospital from where the baby boy was stolen last month, is now organizing a special baby show next week.

Since it is proving tough to locate most of the male babies born at the same time as Latha's son, because of insufficient address, the investigation team has now decided to rely on the postman.

The hospital has written letters to parents of all the male babies discharged from the hospital between April 16 and 21. They have been asked to bring the babies to the hospital for a check-up.

"A larger number of babies can be covered and we can check the possibility of interchange,'' says Dr Umamaheswara Rao, Superintendent, Maternity Hospital.

The entire episode should ideally be a wake-up call for the Health Ministry to put its house back in order. Especially in a hospital like this which handles 46 deliveries everyday on an average.

The police have already expressed its dissatisfaction over the way the hospital records are maintained.

On their part the parents, say they have to be more careful now with their newborns, particularly since the hospital staff wields so much power.

"We had to pay up between Rs 200 and 250 only to see the baby. They would not show us the baby's face till we gave them the money,'' says a parent.

As a first step, the hospital is now appointing private security guards to regulate who enters and leaves the premises.