July 15, 2021 9:42:14 am
Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Dr Rajiv Saizal has sought a report into the death of a retired Chief Commissioner of Income Tax in Kasauli last Sunday after allegedly being denied treatment at the Military Hospital (MH), Kasauli.
A K Luthra, aged 74 years, a former Indian Revenue Service officer of the 1970 batch, had been attending a meeting of the management committee at the Kasauli Club. He fell down after reportedly suffering a cardiac arrest near the church and was rushed to the MH Kasauli by some tourists. The tourists have alleged that they were turned away from the MH by Army personnel who asked them to take the unconscious person to the Cantonment Board hospital located nearby.
“I have come to know about the incident. This should never have happened. At least the MH authorities should have stabilised the person even if he could not be admitted. He could have been then taken to a government facility in Dharampur. I have sought a report on this matter. We will also speak to the Army authorities so that such incidents do not happen in the future,” said Dr Saizal, who is also the MLA from Kasauli.
According to Shubham, a tourist from Patiala who took Luthra to the MH Kasauli along with some other persons, they were turned away from the hospital and sent to Cantonment Board Hospital where again there was no doctor on duty. The duty nurse at the Cantonment Board Hospital had to call the doctor on the phone to get some guidance but that too was not sufficient to save the patient The nurse later told media persons that there is no doctor available at the hospital on Sundays and that this has been the situation for last ten years.
“We took the unconscious gentleman to the MH Kasauli but we were not even allowed to enter the Emergency. They told us we have no facility and asked us to take him to the government hospital. In the Cantonment Board Hospital, there was no doctor on duty and there was only a nurse there,” said Shubham.
The people who tried to help Luthra said that they also faced a lot of problems due to the heavy traffic in Kasauli.
“We come here as tourists, but military hospitals should help us in an emergency. If someone has to get medical help in an emergency, especially if he is aged, then do civilians have no value? Are the Military Hospitals to save Army lives only,” asked Shubham.
Former Indian Foreign Service Officer, K C Singh, raised the issue of A K Luthra on Twitter.
“My college mate and oldest friend A K Luthra (IRS-70) died in Kasauli yesterday. There to attend Kasauli Club Committee meeting he collapsed near Military Hospital, but was refused entry being a civilian. The civil hospital had no doctor. Shouldn’t life-saving come before civil-mil?” he tweeted.
Speaking to The Indian Express from New Delhi, Roshni, daughter of A K Luthra, said that it was unfortunate that a place like Kasauli has no facility for medical treatment of tourists despite the fact that it is a prominent tourist place and a military cantonment.
“Strangers who did not even know my father stepped forward to help him and carry him around for medical help while the Army which is supposed to be our saviour turned him away. No one should be turned away from Army hospitals in an emergency. My father is never going to come back but if he can be a trailblazer in his death and ensure that nothing like this happens with anyone again then we will be very happy,” said a sobbing Roshni.
Civilian did not say patient is serious: Army
Responding to a questionnaire from The Indian Express, Western Command Headquarters of the Army said that A K Luthra was bought to the Medical Inspection (MI) Room of the MH Kasauli with the information that a civilian has fallen down.
“One civilian entered the MI room and informed the duty Nursing Assistant that a civilian has ‘fallen down’ on the road. The patient was inside the car that time. The Nursing Assistant immediately informed the Duty Medical Officer, who said that if the case is not serious requiring emergency treatment, he be taken to the Cantonment Hospital (500 metres from the MH) for treatment. The civilian accompanying Mr A K Luthra did not confirm that the patient is serious and moved out to take him to the Cantonment Hospital,” the Army said.
The Army statement said the civilian who came to the MI Room neither confirmed that the patient is serious nor requested for in-situ examination.
“Many civilians approach the MH for routine treatment. Only emergency cases are attended; balance cases are advised to approach the Cantonment Hospital,” the statement added.
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