Legendary and enigmatic actress Ms. Suchitra Sen passed away in a Kolkata hospital in the early morning hours today. She was 83. She acted in more than 60 Hindi and Bengali films and has left an indelible mark in the minds and hearts of Indian cinema audiences with her remarkable portrayal of strong female characters. She was one of the greatest actresses of our country.
The exact time and cause of her death have not been confirmed by the officials and doctors of the hospital who were attending on her.
Some conjectures have been made in the media and there are reports that she died of cardiac arrest in the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) of the hospital after having struggled for life for 23 days. She was admitted thrice to the hospital, reportedly for lung infection on all occasions.
There is intense speculation about the real cause of her death that seems to have something to do with the hospital systems around the country and globe. The ICUs and ITUs of big and expensive super-specialty hospitals that provide expensive life-saving Medicare to their patients, using high-end exorbitantly expensive antibiotics, are fast turning into killing zones.
Ms. Suchitra Sen’s was not the first death of its kind in this hospital. There was yet another case of death just 20 days ago. A leading and highly respected Income Tax lawyer of Kolkata also breathed his last in the same hospital in exactly similar circumstances as Ms. Sen with minor variations here and there. He was admitted to the ITU in the beginning of December 2013 and he passed away 24 days later in the early morning hours after the same see-saw battle for life Ms. Suchitra Sen went through. The team of doctors in both the cases was also the same.
According to the hospital sources, who may not come on record now, the cause of his death was the dreaded Super Bug about which the WHO has been issuing constant warnings to Indian hospitals and doctors. His family also confirms that they were warned by another leading Critical Care Specialist of the city about the prevalence of these deadly bacteria in the concerned hospital’s system.
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Super Bug is a bacteria that becomes immune to antibiotic treatment. It breeds in the hospital system alone, mostly in ITU and ICU environment. It develops immunity because of the penchant of the doctors to use high-end antibiotics to treat patients a bit too early during the treatment process. These antibiotics are very expensive and unaffordable by common people and should generally be used as a last resort.
Though we don’t have the record of the kind of antibiotics administered to the late Ms. Suchitra Sen, we have been told that in case of the leading lawyer the cost of medicines administered to him during his 24 days hospitalisation was not less than Rs.6-7 lakhs. One can imagine how expensive are these antibiotics. There are also reports that hospital administrations makes most of their money from such expensive consumables since the drug companies offer them hefty commissions on their purchase.
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The big Indian hospitals seem to have done nothing to address the menace of the Super Bug since it may require complete shutdown of the hospital systems leading to huge business losses. They have conveniently ignored the warnings of the WHO hoping against hope that the issue may not snowball into something alarming.
Now, here is the big question. Will the passing away of a legendary actress like Ms. Suchitra Sen be considered as a wake-up call by the medical fraternity or not? Will they take urgent steps to counter the Super Bug issue or continue with their negligent ways?
It also should be a wake-up call for the Ministry of Health and its counterparts in the states. What have they done after having received the warning of the WHO? If they have not done anything, they have played and are still playing with the precious lives of Indian citizens.
Rajesh Kumar Singh (the author) is Editorial Consultant. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst. The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Publication/Organization. Neither the Publication/Organization nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.