Hospital in India wracked by allegations of scientific misconduct, poor sanitation

jcdrThree doctors at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh are losing a paper based on phone calls to the Drug Information Unit, a phone line that patients could call to learn more about the drugs they were considering taking.

The catch: It was all made up.

According to an investigation by the Hindustan Timesthe phone was disconnected between 2012 and May 2014, though ‘data’ for the paper was allegedly collected in 2013. We imagine that would make it difficult to answer the 56 calls the paper claims a junior resident took over the course of a month.

The HT reports that the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research paper, “Drug Information Unit as an Effective Tool for Promoting Rational Drug Use,” is being retracted, and that the dean has asked for an official investigation. We’ve reached out to the journal, and will update with any new information.

This isn’t the worst of recent allegations against hospital staff at PGIMER. Orthopedics professor Vishal Kumar was accused of being in bed with pharmaceutical companies and harassing several employees. From the HT:

According to sources, the most recent complaint was sent by former senior resident doctor Somay Chakraborty on October 13. The complaint — a copy of which is available with HT — marked to the director and the dean of the institute alleged that Dr Kumar was hand in glove with various pharmaceutical and orthopaedics implant manufacturing companies. The complaint also alleged that he used to force his juniors to prescribe medicines and use implants.

The complainant also alleged that at least three senior resident doctors from the PGIMER’s orthopaedics department left due to Dr Kumar’s attitude.

Earlier, a similar complaint was made against him by one Dr Pushpak Samal, who also worked as a resident doctor. In his complaint made last year, he had also alleged harassment by Dr Kumar.

Even more troubling is the HT‘s investigation into unsanitary conditions at the hospital. They reported in November that an internal report they’d obtained sharply criticized PGIMER for filthy kitchens and bathrooms, overflowing garbage cans, and food handlers with unwashed hands.
There is some improvement underway at the hospital, though. According to the HT:

PGI director Dr YK Chawla had launched a month’s Swachh Bharat Campaign at PGIMER on September 27 by cleaning the lawns in front of his office.

Update 1 p.m. Eastern 12/05/14: The Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research has confirmed that the retraction has been put in motion, though it’s unclear when a notice will appear.

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