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Video showing ants on paralysed Covid patient’s face puts Vadodara hospital in tight spot

The civic body-run hospital, which initially denied the incident, later admitted that the staff attending to patients at the Covid-19 ICU have been instructed to maintain high standards of hygiene.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara |
July 29, 2021 5:44:35 pm
Hospital staff of SSG hospital in Vadodara. (Express photo by Bhupendra Rana/Representational)

A video shot by the family members of a critical Covid-19 patient, who is also suffering from paralysis, put Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad (SSG) Hospital under severe criticism Thursday. The video shows the patient on intubation haplessly trying to shake her head to get rid of ants emerging from the corner of her mouth near the feeding tube.

The civic body-run hospital, which initially denied the incident, later admitted that the staff attending to patients at the Covid-19 ICU have been instructed to maintain high standards of hygiene.

The patient in the video is seen responding to her husband’s questions with a slight shake of her head. Her face has visible edema and the feeding tube covers a major part of her face. Her husband first inquires with her if she would like to have some tea or juice, which she refuses. A few seconds later, the husband spots an ant emerging from her mouth and calls out to the staff nurse. He is seen showing the nurse the ants on the face, to which she responds that the patient is cleaned once every day. The video then shows several ants emerging from the patient’s mouth and she appears to be in visible discomfort.

When contacted, the administrative nodal officer of the hospital, Dr Osman Belim, first dismissed the video, saying there was only a single ant on the patient’s face and the edema is not a result of the ant bites but due to side-effects of the heavy medicines being administered.

“The patient, aged about 60, hails from Jambusar in Bharuch District and tested Covid-19 positive a week ago. She has a heavy viral load and is on strong medicines. She is a known case of paralysis and has severe co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity in addition to paralysis. She has developed side effects of the medicines and is showing edema on her body, even her legs. She is a high-risk patient and has been intubated and is on BiPAP ventilation since her admission about eight days back. There was just a single ant seen on her face and the edema and is not the reason for her critical condition, as is being understood,” Dr Belim said.

The Medical Superintendent of SSG, Dr Ranjan Aiyer, however, admitted that the lapse had been noticed and two attendants at the Covid-19 ICU have been pulled up for the same. “We understand the sentiment of the family and we have passed on strict instructions to the staff that utmost care should be taken to ensure that hygiene is maintained,” Aiyer told The Indian Express.

He added that the presence of ants on the patient’s face could have been because of the fact that she was being fed through the tube. “It happens when there is a spillage of food that is being fed to patients on intubation. The ants are attracted and make their way to the spot. The patient is paralysed but is able to communicate the discomfort too. The staff has been instructed to be alert and, on their toes, to ensure that no patient is left unattended,” Aiyer said.

SSG Hospital is one of the major healthcare centres for patients from Vadodara and nearby districts as well as states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and has treated over 15,000 Covid-19 patients since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

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