Home Unbreak The News

Medical Negligence: A Father's Long Battle for Justice for His Son

After alleging medical negligence in his son's death, despite the District Medical Board's scathing report, the father alleges that the Gurugram police wants to close the case. Here's a report on a father's relentless battle for justice for his son.

By Prema Sridevi
New Update
Listen to this article
0.75x 1x 1.5x
00:00 / 00:00

For two long years, Atul Kataria, the father of Amit Kataria, has been waging a relentless battle for justice for his son. Atul alleges that his son's untimely demise was a result of medical negligence at Artemis Hospital in Gurugram. Despite the District Medical Board's scathing report, which criticized Artemis Hospital for its indifference and lack of competence in treating Amit, Atul finds himself still struggling to get justice. His journey has been marked by countless hurdles, from police inaction to bureaucratic delays, yet his determination remains unwavering. In this interview, Atul shares the harrowing details of his son's tragic end and the uphill battle he continues to face in seeking medical accountability and closure. To watch the full VIDEO INTERVIEW, click this link.

Prema Sridevi: Joining me today is Atul Kataria, the father of Amit Kataria. Atul Kataria lost his son Amit in May 2022 when Amit met with a car accident. Atul Kataria has alleged that his son died due to medical negligence. It’s been nearly two years since the tragic death of Amit, but the family is still literally moving from pillar to post for justice. Atul ji, thank you for talking to me. Before we get into the details of this case, please tell me - what exactly happened on the day of the fateful car accident?

Atul Kataria: Thank you for inviting me. Amit had gone out to the market and he came back. He was in the basement parking his car in Gurugram in his apartment complex. He somehow lost control of his car and hit the wall. Behind the wall, there was a generator set. The car hit the generator set, and the entire system came towards him. The steering wheel hit him. He got injured. His mother called Artemis Hospital in Gurugram, but there was no ambulance available. Some gentleman used his Innova car and took him to Artemis Hospital.

Prema Sridevi: Before we talk about what happened at Artemis Hospital in detail, let’s first talk about Amit. Amit was 22 years old when he passed away. He was a musician. He had won accolades from prestigious institutions like London’s Trinity College. His music was admired by renowned artists across the world, including Celine Dion. First, tell us about Amit. What kind of an individual was he? What were his aspirations and dreams?

Atul Kataria: Amit was a British citizen. He was born in the U.K. He went to India in 2006 and joined a private school. He was a quiet and kind-hearted person. His passion was music right from a young age. He loved playing the guitar and was very gifted. He also studied in the U.K. and wanted to compose his original music. I bought him an electric guitar because he wanted to create his own music and not copy anyone. At the age of 14, he took a Grade 2 exam at Trinity College in London, where I believe he was a topper. Then, at the Grade 8 exam, he scored distinction marks at the age of about 15, which was a very difficult feat to achieve. This also meant that he was so good at music that he could start training people. He received many offers at a young age, including one from A.R Rahman’s music academy, but he rejected them because he wanted to pursue his own music. He was one of those unique and rare artists who would have grown up to be a great musician. He wanted to go back to the U.K after two days and start his musical career on a big platform. Just before that everything ended with that accident in Gurugram. 

Prema Sridevi: You have time and again said that your son died due to medical negligence. At the end of the day, for a case to stand the test of law, it needs to be backed by evidence. What evidence do you have that can undeniably prove that this was, in fact, a case of death due to medical negligence?

Atul Kataria: Even the District Medical Board report says that there was negligence. I really don’t know how the system works in India. At Artemis Hospital, they did not even do his chest X-ray even when they saw that he had bruises on his chest, and instead, they were treating some swelling he had on his limbs and his face. Who really ignores life-threatening bruises and then focuses on swelling on the limbs? When I came down to India from the U.K. after the incident, I requested the police to register the case. Initially, the police were not even willing to register an FIR. They should have recovered the CCTV footage because that alone shows video evidence of negligence. The police did not recover that either.

Prema Sridevi: So, he was brought into Artemis Hospital and within two hours he was proclaimed dead. Now, one of the primary arguments that you have made is that his Chest X-ray was not done even when the doctors had seen that he had bruises on his chest. He was put on a ventilator. Within 10 mins of that, he is believed to have died. Now you also say that they did CPR for one hour. The post-mortem report showed that 5 to 7 ribs on the left side of his chest were fractured. So, you believe that timely Chest X-ray and treatment would have probably saved him?

Atul Kataria: Yes, absolutely. His life could have been saved. He had no other injury. He did not have a cardiac arrest. He didn’t have a head injury. Only his lungs were burst. The doctors should have immediately treated him. But they were tending to his knees. Who does that?

Prema Sridevi: The District Medical Board report itself says that there was medical negligence. The report states that the doctor who was tending to Amit was junior and he had never put a chest tube on his own. The report also stated that essential life-saving treatment was not administered during the crucial golden hour. So, even the medical board had said that there was medical negligence - then why is it that you are finding it difficult to get justice?

Atul Kataria: The case took 3 months to go to the CMO. The ACP was sitting on the complaint. I had to reach out to the British High Commission to get the complaint moving in India. It took three months. Three months was enough for the hospital to tamper with the evidence.

Prema Sridevi: I am now going to read a portion of the report of the Board that states: “The treating team kept applying force on the deceased’s chest and broken bones of the rib cage, which might have punctured the lungs to an irreparable extent. It also states that the hospital exhibited a lack of competence, inaction, and wanton indifference to their patient's safety.” Even when this is the case - tell us why is justice evading you? What are the challenges that you are facing?

Atul Kataria: I am struggling to get justice for my son. The police did the FIR after a lot of follow-up from my side. After that, they did not include the names of senior doctors. Then they did not get evidence - CCTV or CDR details. An SIT was formed in the case, but we don’t even know where that is moving. The junior doctor who did not even know how to put a chest tube, who has never put a chest tube in his life, was handling Amit’s emergency case. He had only three months' experience. What was such a junior doctor doing in the emergency? 

Prema Sridevi: The police had registered an FIR. The matter is in front of the court. Was there an order from the part of the court in this case or any observation that you want to talk about? You have been alleging consistently that there has been police inaction. You have been saying the police is trying to hide something - what exactly are you suggesting?

Atul Kataria: What I am suggesting is that the police want to cancel the FIR. The SHO told me that they want to close the case, quoting the Jacob Mathews case because the term “gross negligence” was not used. But the Jacob Mathews case does not say that the Medical Board has to write “gross negligence”. It is for the court to decide if there was medical negligence or not. The police are really pushing me. They are saying that there cannot be a criminal case because of the Supreme Court judgement. There are so many PILs in the matter related to “gross negligence”. They are basically saying that though the investigation has found that negligence was there, but since the term “gross” was not used, so we want to drop the case. How absurd is this?

Prema Sridevi: You have diligently been taking part in the court hearings. You keep travelling back and forth from London to Gurugram to plead before the police. It’s been a long battle for justice for your son. What kind of a personal toll did it take on you?

Atul Kataria: I couldn’t work for a year. I have still not recovered. In my job, I have stopped taking leadership roles because I want to focus on getting justice for my son. Getting justice for my son is the only mission of my life. It is expensive to travel. It is costing me money legally to pay the lawyer. But it is so shameless on the part of the police. They make me come all the way here from London, and when I stand in front of the court, the police comes empty-handed with a blank face.

Prema Sridevi: Recently, we did a report on how the National Medical Commission quietly stripped patients' rights. In the story, we spoke about how, as per the current regulations, they seemed to have quietly removed the right of medical negligence victims to appeal. This right was previously there in the Indian Medical Council Regulations of 2002. Essentially, this means that if you or your family member becomes a victim of medical negligence and your State Medical Council fails to deliver justice, you are left without any recourse. On the other hand, if doctors against whom complaints are filed have an issue with the State Medical Council, they still have the right to appeal. Do you think our country needs to upgrade its rules related to medical negligence and must have a victim or patient-first policy?

Atul Kataria: The Supreme Court needs to look into it. The IMA is going all the way out to decriminalise medical negligence. If I want a second opinion, none of the doctors want to give a second opinion because they are scared of the IMA.

Prema Sridevi: You are spending so many resources and efforts to fight this case. I am sure that there must be a lot of people who must be telling you, "Whatever had to happen has happened. Don't waste your time and money fighting for justice in India." What do you have to say to those people?

Atul Kataria: I tell them, does it mean that because he is dead, he doesn’t have his rights? Where is the law and order then? They killed my son, and they have to pay for it. Most of the hospitals are penalised with a very minimal amount. Why should the penalty not be in crores? The penalty and punishment should be such that it should pinch the hospital, and at least that should stop them from committing such crimes.

Prema Sridevi: What is your appeal or demand from the Health Ministry or the National Medical Commission?

Atul Kataria: The first thing is that they should restore patients’ rights. These hospitals talk about international patients. My personal belief is that if you want to get treatment in India, then forget about your rights because if something goes wrong, you will not get justice.

Prema Sridevi: Thank you for talking to me, Atul ji. I hope you get justice soon for your son. Thank you.

Atul Kataria: Thank you for inviting me. 

At The Probe, our commitment to social impact journalism is at the core of everything we do. Funded by well-meaning individuals from the public, our aim is to drive positive social change and make a real-world impact through the stories we report. If you wish to support us, please visit our Truth Brigade page and contribute to a cause that resonates with you the most. It is through your support that we have been able to keep the flame of our journalism alive in these difficult times. Click link to support us to make a difference: https://theprobe.in/truth-brigade