When over seven months of pleas by a 45-year-old HIV positive patient at civic-run KEM hospital failed to make the authorities help, a mail— marked to the union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, state health minister Suresh Shetty, and department of AIDS control— threatening of moving to consumer court managed a speedy response.
On Tuesday, August 19, the hospital admitted the 45-year-old Mira Road resident, facing chronic kidney dysfunction, for dialysis.
On August 16, Dr Siddhartha Saxena, who runs the Shree Swami Ayyappa Charitable Trust, and Dr Arun Mishra, from an organisation called the Patients Protection Against Medical Malpractices, wrote a mail to KEM hospital’s Head of Nephrology, Dr N K Hase, giving details of the HIV positive patient and repeated attempts made by him to get dialysis at the hospital since days. While the Ayyappa trust had written mails on previous occasions but failed to get a response, this time they marked a copy to the health ministers.
The patient, who works with a company that sell loans, has been approaching KEM hospital for the past seven months. “ they tell me that I will be given hemodialysis only if I agree to go for PD [peritoneal] dialysis after some time. Since PD dialysis cost Rs 20,000 per month, I could not afford it and had to leave every time without dialysis,” the patient said.
While hemodialysis is a procedure to remove waste from the blood and is carried out in a hospital itself at lower rates, PD dialysis is an expensive procedure that does the same work for a patient at home.
When contacted, Dr N K Hase from KEM told the Newsline, “We cannot do dialysis for life long as it takes away other patients’ time for treatment, that is why PD dialysis is recommended. In this case, the patient was ready to continue on drugs without dialysis.”
The patient’s son however refuted the hospital’s claims of continuing on drugs. In the last seven months, the patient has developed high creatine levels up to 12.66 mg per deciliter as opposed to normal level between 0.5 to 1.1 mg per deciliter. According to experts, such levels can lead to kidney failure and requires immediate dialysis.
The trust first wrote a mail to KEM hospital on August 6, 9, 14, 15, and 16.
“We had received a reply on August 14 from Dr Hase and he asked to send the patient. But for two days, the patient was ignored in the hospital and he had to return back both days. After we threatened them of a PIL, they took an action,” Saxena from Ayyappa trust said.
While the 45-year-old is getting treatment at KEM for now, he is scared he will soon be asked to shift to the more expensive PD dialysis soon. “I only have two children and my entire family has given up on me. I don’t earn enough to support myself, PD dialysis is beyond my financial capacity,” the patient said.