New revelations in Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen’s case | Sunday Observer

New revelations in Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen’s case

Dr. Shihabdeen after  the court hearing on Friday (9)
Dr. Shihabdeen after the court hearing on Friday (9)

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Friday (9) informed the Kurunegala magistrate that they have conclusive material to arrive at the inference that the Director of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, Dr. Weera Bandara has made attempts to conduct the HSG test behind closed doors after stating in court that performing such tests can be harmful to the mothers undergoing such tests.

The B report filed by the CID states that investigations have revealed that the Deputy Director of the hospital Dr. K. M. C. Kendagamuwa with the blessings and knowledge of the Director, had made arrangements to conduct HSG tests on seven selected mothers who have complained about Dr. Shafi on June 3, 2019.

When Dr Shafi Shihabdeen’s case came up before the Kurunegala magistrate the CID made these revelations. The information surfaced after obtaining statements by three Consultant Radiologists at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital and the Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Previous attempts to obtain their statements were stifled by the Hospital Director.

When the case was taken up on June 27, 2019 the CID sought a direction from the court to put the mothers who had complained through the HSG test, lawyers appearing on behalf of the mothers complained that it is not suitable to do so. The court then proceeded to seek the advice of the Hospital Director who was present in court at that time, and he made lengthy submissions as to why these mothers should not undergo the HSG test. He claimed that it can result in very dangerous complications such as cancers in the reproductive system and even death.

Based on these submissions the court halted the tests and called for reports from an expert panel on the said complications.

Evidence now shows clearly that the Director made these submissions in court after conducting the tests on seven mothers who had complained against Dr Shafi, clearly misleading courts.

According to Consultant Gynecologist Dr. Peshala Dangalla of the Kurunegala General Hospital, the sub-fertility clinic was not held continuously at the teaching hospital and in early July, the Director had requested him to hold it on a regular basis. The clinic started from July 3, 2019 in a room adjacent to the Deputy Director’s room. Any mothers who feel they are infertile can attend this clinic. However, on the said date, the list of names of mothers who have complained to be infertile after being treated by Dr Shafi drawn up by the Deputy Director was four pages long.

According to the statement,the Deputy Director had handed over the list to Dr. Dangalla who was asked to conduct the test. Dr. Dangalla says that out of the list 14 mothers were selected and asked to come on the said date for the test, but after preliminary examinations only seven of them had undergone the test.

When CID officials visited the hospital on July 3, 2019 the Director of the Hospital, Dr. Weera Bandara had not allowed the officials to proceed. The CID then reported the facts to court and obtained a court order to obtain these statements, which, now, seem to be crucial evidence pointing to the ulterior motives of the Director of the Hospital and his cohort.

As per the statement given by one of the Consultant Radiologists, Dr Udithamala Priyanthi Alwis, she had received a letter sent by the CID dated 2019-07-01 asking her to make a statement and when no officer came to take her statement, she had gone and met the Director to see why her statement was not taken, and at which point the Director had told her that the HSG test has been stopped by the court and that no further inquiries can be made about it.

HSG test

Radiologist Dr. Sagarika Kulawansa describing an HSG test states that the motive of such a test is to see whether there is any obstruction to the fallopian tubes and that any issue with the womb can also be checked through this test. She further states that a patient wishing to undergo such tests should come through a recommendation by a Consultant Gynaecologist.

She further states that during her service period she has conducted over 400 HSG tests and says that none of the patients that she put through the test later reported any complications, cancer or death.

“After the arrest of Dr Shafi, Director of the hospital, Dr Weera Bandara, held a meeting in the rest area for consultants at the hospital during which he inquired from the radiologists whether they can conduct HSG tests on mothers who have complained about Dr Shafi. We replied that if they are sent through the proper channels there’s no reason as to why the test should not be performed,” she said.

On a separate day, she had been called to the Director’s office and he had asked her if they can conduct the HSG tests. She had answered in the same manner as she had done before. She further states that a mother who underwent the test did not have any issues in her fallopian tubes or in the reproductive system. This mother had complained that Dr. Shafi had intentionally conducted an LRT on her and that she has been referred on the recommendation of consultant Dr. Peshala Dangalla. Dr. Kulawansa also said that she remembers that the patient’s fallopian tubes were not damaged.

The second Consultant Radiologist Dr. Udithamala Priyanthi Alwis says that there have been no complications reported so far about the HSG tests conducted at the hospital

Dr. Tikiribanda Herath, another Consultant Radiologist attached to the hospital states he got to know that Dr. Sagarika Kulawansa had conducted a HSG test on one of Dr. Shafi’s patients. He further stated that the Director asked him and the other two radiologists for a report on HSG tests and its side effects. The requested information obtained through the internet had been given to the Deputy Director, who had asked for the report as a hard copy signed by the Consultant Radiologists which had been refused by them.

Reports

The CID further submitted that they had received reports from the De Soysa and Castle Street hospitals on the HSG tests that each hospital had conducted and any complications the patients concerned have faced after undergoing the test. The report indicated that 273 HSG tests have been conducted at the de Soysa hospital and 920 tests conducted at the Castle Street hospital and no major complications where the patients died or contracted ovarian cancer were flagged.

On a previous occasion the court ordered the Kurunegala Hospital Director to submit a report on HSG tests conducted at the hospital in the last five years and its results showing complications. The letter informing the hospital of the order has been served on the Deputy Director but the hospital have yet failed to provide the CID with a report.

“This clearly shows and we can arrive at the conclusion that the submission made by the Director is baseless and is false. He said that undergoing HSG can result in sub-fertility, cancer in the reproductive system and even in death but now we have to think that these were baseless as they has failed to provide us with documentary evidence to prove his claim,” ASP Tissera told the court. The CID sought from court to issue orders directing the Director of the hospital to make available the lists of patients who underwent the HSG examination and their bed head tickets and several other relevant documents.

The Director who was present in court again addressed the bench and informed that all documents are not available and a report will be issued on the documents that are unavailable. The matter will be taken up again on December 12.

Parliamentarian Athureliye Rathana Thera was present in court observing proceedings.

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