Following show cause notices being issued to four of Mumbai’s leading hospitals following ‘surprise visits’ by the Maharashtra Health Minister, Rajesh Tope, who noted the hospital’s lack of compliance to the state’s instructions for the treatment of COVID-19, another case of alleged medical negligence emerges, from the Nair Hospital in central Mumbai.
A 60-year-old Coronavirus patient, Pritam Singh died whilst undergoing treatment, on 4 June 2020, due to the lack of ventilators in the government hospital. This is not the first time Nair hospital came under scrutiny for the lack of ventilators, in August 2019, Daily Newspaper, DNA ran a story on seven non functional ventilators at the Nair Hospital. The family of the patient have alleged that several medical lapses took place during Singh’s treatment, and have spoken out about the lack of resources, preparedness, and the unruly behaviour displayed by the staff.
Speaking about the patient’s treatment, Rutwik Pawar, the grandson of the deceased and a final year college student said, “My grandfather (maternal) passed away owing to a lack of ventilators at the Nair Hospital.” According to Pawar the patient had been displaying symptoms of respiratory ailments, following which he was rushed to the hospital. It was during this time that the youngster witnessed the lack of preparedness by the city’s healthcare system.
“We took my grandfather to the Rajawadi hospital, Balasaheb Thackeray hospital, then the Cooper hospital, but could admit him at any of them as they were lacking oxygen cylinders. We finally took him to the Nair hospital, which was left with only one bed at the time.”
Upon being admitted at Nair Hospital, the staff informed the family that there were no ventilators available. “He had been on the support of oxygen cylinders, until his oxygen levels dropped below 50. It was during this critical time that my grandfather was pleading with us and the staff to put him on the ventilator, but the staff simply stood there and watched my grandfather suffering.”
He went on to say, “We pleaded with the hospital administration to arrange for a ventilator or at least have him transferred, however our cries for help fell on deaf ears. The hospital declined citing risks, while he continued to suffer in agony.”
The family claimed that the doctors had diagnosed the patient for COVID-19 and said that he had contracted the virus, however, were not provided with any documentation at the time. “We accompanied the hospital staff to the crematorium where my grandfather’s body was exhumed in an electric furnace. We are still yet to receive his death certificate.”
Calling for a need to bring about urgent changes in the city’s healthcare system, the student said, “The man with whom my grandmother spent over forty years is gone, and there is nothing we can do to bring him back, my only appeal, as a youngster is that ventilators, oxygen cylinders and other essential medical equipment are made readily available, especially during this pandemic. I do not want any other family to go through something like this.”
“Is this the level of preparation a metro city like Mumbai has? Where are all our preparedness funds, or the PM Cares fund everyone is talking about? If we cannot provide basic medical aid to patients then what ‘Mission Begin Again’ has started? Retorted the deceased’s grandson.
The youngster appealed to medical professionals working during the pandemic saying, “While I can empathise with the pressures which medical professionals are currently going through, it is understandable, but it is neither justifiable to be callous towards patients and their families who are also suffering. We saw the medical staff physically forcing patients to move and displaying uncouth behaviour.” The hospital administration was not available for comment.