Twenty days after the body of a missing Covid-19 patient was recovered from Sewri TB hospital’s toilet in Mumbai, a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation-appointed probe committee has recommended a string of actions, including the removal of the hospital’s medical superintendent.
On October 18, the body of tuberculosis (TB) patient Suryabhan Yadav (27), who had also tested positive for Covid-19, was found in the hospital toilet a fortnight after he was reported missing from his cot. For 14 days, the body remained inside one of the three toilet cubicles, eventually decomposing and starting to stink.
The inquiry committee, headed by BMC Deputy Executive Health Officer Dr Daksha Shah questioned nearly 200 people, including patients, staffers, doctors, nurses and those attached to the hospital administration. It has found lack of supervision and negligence in monitoring of patients.
Patients in ward 12, where Yadav was admitted, complained of unbearable stench for days. They said that they had complained many times but no staffer was willing to inspect the source of the smell. The nurses and ward boys had attributed the stench to clogged drains or garbage dumped behind the hospital building.
The report, submitted to BMC on Friday, has been sent to the municipal commissioner for approval, following which appropriate action will be initiated.
A civic official said that “major changes have been proposed” in the hospital. While action has been proposed against medical officers on duty when Yadav went missing, a departmental inquiry has been advised against nurses and ward boys on duty on October 4.
Yadav had moved to Mumbai from Mirzapur for a job in September. He was admitted in a Goregaon hospital after he fell ill. As he tested positive for TB and Covid-19, he was referred to Sewri hospital on September 30. In the wee hours of October 4, he was reported missing and a police complaint was filed by the hospital.
His father was informed about his death on October 19, a day after his decomposed body was found in hospital toilet.
A source from the hospital said that a medical officer had written in Yadav’s file to check the toilets when he went missing but the instruction was not followed.
It is common for Covid-19 patients to collapse if they walk without oxygen support. Patients at Sewri hospital have complained that they were neither provided bed pan nor any aid from the staff to visit toilets in the Covid-19 ward. Several on oxygen support walked to the toilets.
The inquiry committee opined that “there was lack of supervision” on part of Superintendent Dr Lalitkumar Anande. A senior BMC official said they have advised that Anande be removed.
When contacted, 58-year-old Anande said, “I don’t know about the content of the report.” Set to retire next month, he added that he was on duty at the hospital despite being in the high-risk category for Covid-19.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We have taken serious note of this incident. The final approval on the report will come from the commissioner.”
The RAK Marg police, which is investigating the matter, is expected to submit its report by next week.
“Our inquiry is in the last stage. We have recorded the statement of the hospital staffers and will submit a report to the BMC commissioner next week,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IV) Vijay Patil said.
An officer said, “We are investigating the matter from the criminal angle and trying to ascertain whether there was any foul play. We will ask the BMC committee to hand us a copy of its report.”
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