KUALA LUMPUR, 18 March 2009: Actress K Sujatha, who consumed weedkiller, was sent to Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (TARH) in Klang instead of the nearby Kuala Lumpur Hospital (KLH) to cut red tape.
Medical specialist Dr S P Sakthiveloo, who made the recommendation, said bringing Sujatha to TARH would also enable him to monitor her progress.
Sakthiveloo told the Coroner’s Court today that he gave this advice to his cousin, Maika Holdings Berhad chief executive officer S Vell Paari, about 6pm on 19 June 2007, to avoid traffic jams and unnecessary delays at the KLH.
“As I am attached to the hospital, I can cut through the red tape for such cases by bringing her (Sujatha) directly to the ‘Yellow Zone’, rather than the triage counter which is managed by a medical assistant,” he said.
Questioned by Deputy Public Prosecutor Anselm Charles Fernandis on whether it would have been a better choice for Sujatha to have been treated at KLH since it was equipped with the best emergency facilities and referral centre, Sakthiveloo said the journey (to KLH) would take about 20 minutes, and another 20 to 25 minutes at the triage counter.
“On the way to the Klang hospital which took 45 minutes, I had already contacted a house officer (doctor) at the emergency department to prepare the antidote and treatment to wash Sujatha’s stomach, immediately upon arrival,” he explained.
Sakthiveloo, 35, who is currently operating a clinic in Klang, was testifying at the inquest of Sujatha, 28, who died at the TARH on 25 June 2007, four days after admission, for consuming weedkiller.
To another question by Fernandis that since Sujatha’s case was a medico-legal case which required a police stamp in one of the admission forms to indicate it was a police case, Sakhiveloo said normally it was done by a clerk or nurse at the emergency department.
On another issue, the doctor admitted there was no urine and blood sample sent for toxicology screening.
“Samples of gastric lavage (draining the stomach contents), urine and blood samples were done but not for the toxicology screening,” he said.
Sakthiveloo told coroner Mohd Fauzi Che Abu that at all material times (a duration of five days), he was updated on Sujatha’s medical condition and also closely monitored her progress.
To another question on post-mortem, Sakthivello said that normally, in medico-legal cases, if the cause of death was known, the police would not request for post-mortem.
In Sujatha’s case, he said he was unaware that the police had requested for a post-mortem, until about a month later.
However, he said from medical records, one of Sujatha’s family members had requested that no post-mortem be carried out.
Sakthiveloo agreed with Fernandis’ suggestion that if post-mortem was conducted, there would have been conclusive evidence that Sujatha died after consuming weedkiller.
Under cross-examination by Datuk K Kumaraendran who is representing Vell Paari, Sakthiveloo said that apart from him, five other specialists had attended to Sujatha at the Klang hospital.
“Generally, they had the same opinion that Sujatha had consumed paraquat (weedkiller), based on local and systemic effects on her body,” he added.
He said the outcome would have been the same if Sujatha was admitted at the KLH.
However, Sakthiveloo disagreed that Sujatha might have drunk the paraquat unknowingly.
This, he said, was based on three factors. They were:
* The actress had taken two or three gulps of the weedkiller;
* There was a distinct smell of the poison; and,
* There was evidence to indicate she had consumed it directly from the bottle.
The hearing continues on 21 April. — Bernama