AFTER yearlong attempts with Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial (YCM) hospital and the mayor to initiate an inquiry into the death of her 33-year-old husband, Swapna Karkhanis (33) latches her final hope on Wednesday when she will present her case to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the first ever public hearing of medical negligence cases against both public and private hospitals.
Along with her, 104 from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan will present their medical cases in front of the board which will ensure quick hearing in front of all stakeholders. In February last year, Karkhanis’ husband Nishant Karkhanis, a software engineer, suffered from fever and weakness. A day’s admission and tests at private hospital confirmed H1N1 infection. He was immediately shifted to YCM hospital on February 13 for intensive treatment support. Four days later, he passed away. In her complaint, the widow states that the 750-bed hospital is short-staffed and ill-equipped, despite being a tertiary center to handle H1N1 cases.
The YCM hospital is flooded with patients from regions such as Pune, Lonavla, Pimpri, Khadki, Talegaon, Mulshi, Maval, Chakan, Khed and Junnar.
Karkhanis alleged that for the three days Nishant was admitted he was neither attended by doctors regularly nor given proper treatment even as his medical parameters continued to worsen. “The night before my husband expired, he had turned breathless. It was 11 pm. There was no doctor in the ICU. The nurse was sleeping behind a counter outside,” Karkhanis said.
It was four hours later, at 3 am, when a junior doctor could be contacted and brought to the ICU. Nishant was put on ventilator support at 4 am. By then, his vital organs had started failing. By 6 am, on February 17, he succumbed to H1N1 infection.
Karkhanis complained with PCMC thrice in March, June and July last year. In October, the hospital replied saying there was no negligence on their part. Since then, Karkhanis has been approaching commissioner and mayor of Pimpri-Chinchwad to probe the case. “Had there been close monitoring, his life could have been saved,” she claims.
With the outbreak of H1N1 last year, 905 people died in Maharashtra and 8,583 people contracted the infection. “Each death is investigated and patient’s medical history is checked. In this case, the state health department received no complaint,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, state epidemiologist. Nishant suffered from no other medical complications before contracting H1N1.
The NHRC had now summoned the YCM authorities for presenting their case in Wednesday’s public hearing. In November last year, all 12 resident doctors attached with the hospital quit due to poor salaries.
The NHRC, along with NGO Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), will hear 65 cases from Maharashtra, 20 from Rajasthan and 30 from Gujarat, following which it will suggest certain systematic reforms in health policies.