On June 8, an eight-month pregnant woman died in an ambulance after a frantic 13-hour hospital hunt failed to find her a bed as over half-a-dozen facilities denied her treatment. Neelam, 30, her husband Vijender Singh and Neelam’s brother knocked the doors of eight hospitals, including government ones, before she died in the ambulance outside a facility in Greater Noida on Friday, June 5.
A resident of Khoda colony on the Noida-Ghaziabad border, Neelam was taken to the hospital when she suffered from breathlessness due to rising blood pressure. She was taken to six hospitals in auto and then approached two hospitals in an ambulance which they hired since she needed oxygen supply.
According to Neelam’s brother, most of the hospitals claimed they didn’t have beds. Sharada hospital- a dedicated COVID-19 facility- was one among the hospitals which the family had approached. The hospital said that the patient was “admitted briefly” and stabilised using a ventilator and referred to another hospital.
While Fortis hospital said that Singh “refused resuscitation and ventilation support” and “declined… medical advice to transfer the patient to another hospital” in an Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) ambulance. “The patient was taken out of our hospital in an auto. We empathise with the family in their hour of grief,” the hospital said.
The family also tried to get admission in the private facility Jaypee, Fortis Hospital in Gautam Buddh Nagar and Max in Vaishali, Ghaziabad, but were allegedly told that no beds were available.
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The office of District Magistrate Suhas L Y said in a statement: “On Friday, a pregnant woman was denied admission in several hospitals because of which she died. The DM has ordered a probe into the incident which will be headed by CMO (Chief Medical Officer) and ADM (Additional District Magistrate) Finance. The officers have been ordered to complete the inquiry at the earliest and take appropriate action.”
This is not the first incident of a patient dying due to denial of treatment. This is at least the second instance within a fortnight when a life has been lost in Gautam Buddh Nagar due to unavailability of timely medical treatment.
On the night of May 25, a newborn child had died due to lack of medical support as his father kept running from one hospital to another between Greater Noida and Noida. The district administration had carried out a probe in that matter, too, and pinned the fault on two private hospitals for alleged negligence.
While, on June 4, 26-years-old Salman Sulemani had died at AIIMS Rishikesh, where he tested positive for COVID-19, after being turned away from several hospitals in New Delhi.
Since he had breathing trouble, the family had taken him to “Malviya Nagar Hospital where we were told that it is normal cough and there is no reason to worry," his father said.
After this, the family took him to Max Hospital in Delhi where they initially said that they would charge Rs 15,000 per day but later said they do not have the required facilities, his father added.
From there, the family approached Batra Hospital. "They asked us to make an upfront payment of Rs 3 lakh and said if the patient tests positive for COVID-19, the treatment will cost Rs 6 lakh," Salman’s father said, adding, "After this I took him to RML hospital. They told us to either go to AIIMS or to Safdarjung Hospital. From there I went to Lok Narayan Hospital. There they told us they are not admitting patients as they do not have enough facilities."
Finally, the patient had been taken to AIIMS Rishikesh where he tested positive and was on ventilator for two days.
Again on June 5, an 80-year-old man, who had been denied admission at several hospitals for COVID-19 treatment, died. He had even approached the Delhi High Court but died before his case could be heard. According to reports, the man could not get a bed despite approaching several hospitals in the city, both private and government-run including All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Max Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, and Rajiv Gandhi Hospital.
The Delhi private hospitals, however, have been issued a stern warning by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for “lying” about the number of beds available and refusing treatment to COVID-19 patients.
In a virtual press briefing on Saturday, Kejriwal said, “You will not be spared. You will have to take COVID-19 patient who is coming to the hospital for the treatment. Denying treatment to any patient is non-negotiable.”
Outside the national capital, too, patients are being denied treatment because of various factors. On April 4, a pregnant Muslim woman had been reportedly denied treatment on the grounds of her religion. This incident had happened at a government hospital in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district. The child whom she had delivered inside the ambulance after leaving the hospital did not survive.
"My pregnant wife had to deliver a child. She was referred from Sikri to the Janana Hospital in the district headquarter but the doctors here mentioned that we should go to Jaipur because we are Muslim. As I was taking her in the ambulance, she delivered the child but the baby died. I hold the administration responsible for my child's death," the husband of the woman who was refused admission, had alleged back then.
(With inputs from PTI)
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