Criminal case halted to save senior officials
SRINAGAR: The Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) has shelved the Pharmacy Department’s inquiry report into the sale of expired surgical equipment and consumables, which had indicted a chief pharmacist.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that the SKIMS administration has failed to take legal action against the tainted official indicted in the 2016 scam by a two-member inquiry panel appointed by Director SKIMS following a complaint.
“The Chief Pharmacist, Rehana Parveen, who was suspended following the probe panel report in the sale of expired surgical items, is being reinstated following the recommendations by ousted Medical Superintendent,” sources told Kashmir Reader.
They said the probe panel had submitted the inquiry report to the SKIMS Director in 2017. However, the recommendations in the report had not been implemented so far.
The panel comprises Assistant Professor, Hospital Administration, Dr Haroon Rashid and Associate Professor in the Department of General Surgery, Dr Rauf A Wani. The inquiry was ordered following a written complaint by the Head of the Department of Gastroenterology about the sale of expired equipment at the medical institute’s drug counter.
However, as per official sources, the SKIMS administration is in the process of reinstating the suspended official.
Dr Farooq A Jan, Medical Superintendent, SKIMS, also confirmed the development, saying the chief pharmacist’s recall had been recommended by former Medical Superintendent, Dr Amin Tabish.
“I think enough punishment has been given to the Chief Pharmacist. She must be reinstated as per the law. Last Medical Superintendent has recommended that, and rightly so. I also feel she must be reinstated now,” he said.
A senior official, privy to the development, told Kashmir Reader that the SKIMS administration didn’t initiate criminal proceedings in the fraudulent case.
“The Chief Pharmacist has been made a scapegoat while other officials, who were in-charge of the Store and Drug Counter, were left scot-free. The criminal complaint with the police would have revealed the deep corruption and that is why only the internal inquiry was ordered, which is a mere eyewash,” he said.
According to a senior faculty member, the probe panel also came under the influence of the administration.
“The concerned Faculty In-charge of Drug and Pharmacy Services is coercing the panel which has first delayed the investigation and later halted the criminal complaint,” he said.
Officials privy to the case have also indicted senior officers in the administration, including the then Medical Superintendent and Deputy Medical Superintendent, in the case of expired equipment and consumables.
According to them, the higher-ups had ignored the repeated alerts by the Chief Pharmacist about the presence of expired and nearly expired Esophageal Variceal Band (VU Max), or EVB.
“The administration was aware of the presence of expired equipment in the pharmacy as the Chief Pharmacist had informed them about it well in time. However, they ignored the alerts and allowed the sale of VU Max bands at the Pharmacy Drug Counter,” officials said.
Ironically, the expired stock was supplied to the drug sales counter of SKIMS by the concerned storekeeper in the absence of the Chief Pharmacist, as per sources.
“Everything was happening in the presence of the administration as the Medical Superintendent had appointed a Senior Resident as In-charge of Drug and Pharmacy for almost three months when the Chief Pharmacist was on leave. And it gives unscrupulous employees leeway to indulge in wrongdoing,” a pharmacist said.
EVB is commonly used to treat immediate (acute) variceal bleeding. It may also be used to prevent recurrent episodes of variceal bleeding, which are common. During a procedure called variceal banding, a doctor uses an endoscope to place an elastic ring that looks like a rubber band around an enlarged vein.
HoD Gastroenterology, Dr G N Yatoo had complained that over 600 expired pieces of EVB were lying in the SKIMS pharmacy. On March 18, the HoD brought the matter to the notice of the SKIMS Medical Superintendent with the request to withdraw the expired EVBs from the SKIMS Pharmacy sales counter and to initiate necessary action against those involved in the sale of such expired items.
Later, an inquiry panel was ordered on the instructions of the SKIMS Director. However, the inquiry was delayed for more than a year.