Kottayam surgeon transferred over 'tray punishment' for nurse

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Kottayam: A senior surgeon at the Kottayam Medical College was transfered after he penalised a nurse by making her to lie down with a tray on her legs.

The Directorate of Medical Education found Dr John S Kurien, the Head of Surgery, guilty after an inquiry was held following protests by nurses associations.

A panel led by Community Medicine Department Head Dr A Shobha has started an internal inquiry. A final report will be presented within three days, said Principal Dr Jose Joseph.

Additional chief secretary in the Health Ministry too had sent a report to the government citing the surgeon’s misdemeanor.

The incident that led to a furore happened on Monday. Dr Kurien who was on his ICU rounds saw a tray lying on a patient’s legs and a trainee nurse had obviously kept it. The nurse was called and told it should not happen when attending to a patient. He then ordered her to lie on a vacant bed nearby and place the tray on her legs as punishment.

The nurse left the tray on bed when she received an urgent call to attend to another ICU patient, said Kerala Government Nurses Association state committee member Hena Devadas. The tray had light items only. The nurse was made to lie on the bed until the rounds were complete even after she apologised and pleaded with the doctor, said Hena.

Nursing associations had held a protest at the medical college on Friday. Nurses had protested by keeping off duty from 8am onwards. Those on night duty had taken additional shift to cover for them, said leaders of nursing organisations. They called off protests after Director of Medical Education Dr Ramla Beevi promised strict action.

Meanwhile, the relatives of the patient on whom the tray was alleged kept have registered a complaint with hospital Superintendent Dr TK Jayakumar.

Dr Kurien had reasoned the nurse did a serious mistake. Two trays weighing half a kilo each were placed on a patient who couldn’t even move after a pancreatic surgery. One was placed on the leg, while another on thighs. The nurse was made to lie for three minutes to make her experience the patient’s difficulty, said Dr Kurien. He said he was ready to apologise if found wrong.

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