Days after a nursing officer at the government medical college hospital in Kochi alleged in an audio clip that a Covid patient had died gasping for oxygen, a doctor at the hospital has mentioned several instances of patients not being given proper ventilator support and two deaths in August allegedly due to medical negligence.
While authorities at the medical college have denied the allegations of the nursing officer, the state government earlier claimed it was a bid to defame the health sector.
Dr Najma Salim, who works at the medical ICU at the hospital, on Wednesday shared with the media a WhatsApp audio message which she had sent to the hospital RMO last month to point out incidents of medical negligence. She said she had alerted hospital authorities about negligence in providing care to critical patients but they tried to cover up the lapses.
“I had seen 10 to 12 instances in which oxygen masks were not properly fitted or ventilator tubes not connected. On many occasions, I had felt that patients are choked to death,” she said. “I had seen two patients named Jameela and Byhakki struggling for oxygen despite being on ventilator support. The senior doctors and duty nurses had been alerted about the lapses, but I was told to neglect such incidents. I stick to what I am saying. The hospital authorities cannot deny the truth. Such things should not take place in future.”
The medical college’s RMO, Dr Ganesh Mohan, said the allegations were baseless and only aimed at tarnishing the image of the hospital, which has been at the forefront in terms of Covid treatment. However, the state human rights commission ordered that the health secretary should probe the alleged lapses in the death of Covid patients.
Jameela’s daughter Hairunnissa alleged her mother had often complained about poor care at the hospital. “As bystanders were not allowed at the hospital, we could make only calls to the patient and the hospital staff. On one occasion, I had heard my mother struggling to take a breath. We had sought hospital permission to shift the patient to another hospital but they discouraged us,’’ she said.
Byhakki’s family claimed he had sent a voice message asking them to deposit Rs 40,000 at the hospital for better care.
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