KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A Nepal hospital said Friday that CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta incorrectly reported that he operated on an 8-year-old girl after the country’s devastating earthquake in April. A CNN spokeswoman said Gupta did perform surgery, and the news channel was trying to verify the patient’s identity.
A top official at the Bir Hospital in Kathmandu, Dr. Ganesh Bahadur Gurung, said Friday that the girl, Salina Dahal, never had brain surgery and has recovered from minor head injuries.
Gupta, a practicing brain surgeon, reported days after the April 25 earthquake that he operated on Dahal. Gurung said Gupta did observe the surgery of another 14-year-old girl, but it was unclear whether he actually assisted Nepali doctors because of the chaotic situation.
Gupta did perform surgery at the hospital, CNN spokeswoman Neel Khairzada said Friday. She said apparently different people at the hospital had given conflicting information to two CNN representatives.
CNN provided smartphone-shot video of the operation that it said was taken at the hospital by CNN producer Tim Hume. The video clips show Gupta in surgical scrubs and, at one point, using a hand-operated drill on a patient.
The Global Press Journal first reported this week that according to the girl’s family and doctors, Dahal was never operated on. Instead, it reported Gupta operated on a 14-year-old girl, Sandhya Chalise.
Gurung said Gupta was allowed inside the hospital by a Nepali surgeon because Gupta said he wanted to observe and was also a surgeon himself.
Dahal and her family said she was in the hospital for eight days with minor injuries and a broken wrist but did not have any surgery. She showed minor scars on her head. Her grandfather — 61-year-old Ram Bahadur — said her wounds needed only stitches after being injured by falling debris on April 25.
She was taken to two different hospitals before ending up at Bir hospital. She said she was visited by many doctors, including foreign ones, but was not sure if one was Gupta. Dahal’s family does not own a television.
On CNN’s “New Day” on Friday, Gupta addressed the issue of how the names of two patients could have been confused.
“When you think about reporting these types of stories, it is a chaotic situation,” he said, adding that the hospital’s lobby turned into a “massive triage area.”
Associated Press writer Lynn Elber contributed.