Police have registered cases against five hospitals in Kerala for allegedly denying treatment to a road accident victim, who died in an ambulance on Monday morning. The victim, Murugan (46) from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, was riding pillion on a bike when it collided with another two-wheeler at Kottiyam in Kollam district at 10.30 pm on Sunday. The police rushed all the injured to nearby KIMS Hospital, where Murugan was diagnosed with brain haemorrhage. According to the police, doctors recommended that he be admitted to a hospital with ventilator facility. Activists of Trauma Care and Accident Aid in Kollam (TRACK) immediately shifted Murugan to an ambulance with ventilator facility. The ambulance rushed to Meditrina Hospital in Kollam, but Murugan was not admitted as the hospital claimed it had no neurosurgeon. TRACK activists then took Murugan to Medicity Hospital in Kollam, where doctors examined him but refused admission.
The patient was then taken to the Government Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram, 65 km from Kollam. However, as no ventilator was available there, the activists took Murugan to SUT hospital in the city, where he could not be admitted for lack of a neurosurgeon.
Murugan was then taken to Azeezia Medical College in Kollam, which claimed it had no neurosurgeon. He was finally taken to Kollam General Hospital at 6 am on Monday, but he died in the ambulance before admission. The charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was slapped against Medicity, Azeezia and Meditrina in Kollam district, and SUT and Government Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram. Apart from the police probe, the state human rights commission is also looking into the incident.
Kollam City Police Commissioner S Ajeetha Bhegum said, “Prima facie our probe has shown that these hospitals denied treatment to the accident victim without any genuine reason. They refused to admit him saying the ventilator facility was not free, or citing absence of a bystander. It was unethical of the doctors to deny treatment. They violated Supreme Court guidelines. We are probing strictly as per law.” Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said he was pained by the incident. “The Director of State Health Services has been asked to conduct a probe. Once the director submits the report, the government will take steps to ensure such incidents are not repeated,’’ he said.
A spokesman for the Medical College said a doctor had examined Murugan in the ambulance. He was in a critical condition and ventilator support was essential, he said. “We checked the availability of ventilator with all intensive care units at the hospital. No ventilator could be made available for Murugan. This was communicated to those who brought him. We did not deny treatment for want of bystander,’’ he added.