The Kerala government Monday ordered a probe into purported denial of treatment by several hospitals to a pregnant woman who was in labour, leading to the death of twin babies she was carrying.
The incident, reported in Malappuram district, has sparked angry protests by locals and Opposition parties against the hospital managements and the health department.
In a statement, health minister KK Shailaja said the incident was extremely distressing and promised action against the culprits. The principal secretary (health) has been asked to conduct a quick probe and submit a report at the earliest.
According to NC Shareef, his wife was nine-months pregnant when she tested positive for Covid-19 on September 5 and subsequently got admitted to the Medical College Hospital in Manjeri. On Sep 15, she was discharged from hospital after she tested negative in an antigen test. But following stomach pain on the night of Sep 18, she had to be re-admitted to the hospital for pregnancy-related issues. However this time, she informed her husband that she was scared to deliver her babies at the hospital because a staff member had behaved badly with her.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, Shareef went on to describe how his wife was denied treatment by at least four hospitals, including a government hospital, citing Covid-19 protocols even she was in insufferable pain during her ninth month of pregnancy.
“Armed with Covid-19 negative certificate, I approached the EMC hospital in Edavanna. The hospital’s managing director spoke to me courteously and said he would get back to me after speaking to the doctor. I prayed to God. I thought it’s not her fault that she got Covid. She must get treatment for her pregnancy. But the result was disappointing. They said since she got the infection once, there’s a possibility it might happen again. They were not ready to accept the antigen negative certificate issued by the government as proof of her recovery,” wrote Shareef, who works at the Suprabhatham local daily.
On the morning of Sept 26, Shareef took his wife again to the Manjeri Medical College Hospital where she was admitted to the labour room, but he alleged the officials were reluctant to take her in as she was not Covid-positive. Despite a doctor understanding her condition and making it clear that she was not safe to be discharged, the hospital officials, claimed Shareef, referred her to a government hospital in Kottaparambu in Kozhikode.
“Enroute the hospital in Kottaparambu, she began to cry loudly due to pain. I held her close. But I knew my comforting words would not be able to defeat the pain she was undergoing. When we reached the hospital, we found out there were no doctors in the gynecologic department and we were referred to the Kozhikode Medical College,” wrote Shareef.
When Shareef was told that the Kozhikode Medical College would be choc-a-bloc with patients, he began to try other private hospitals. Officials at the Santhi hospital in Omassery insisted that they needed a Covid-negative RT-PCR result, not just an antigen result.
Finally, the pregnant woman, after making a round of several hospitals in a day, was admitted to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital on Saturday evening where she underwent a c-section surgery following heavy bleeding. But doctors were unsuccessful in saving the lives of her two babies. The woman continues to be in the hospital ICU.
On Monday, an inconsolable Shareef told reporters, “My children may have died, but through their death, a change must happen…the government must rectify its rules regarding antigen and RT-PCR test results. At the Manjeri Medical College, they were not even ready to scan her despite the situation she was in.”
“My wife doesn’t know the kids have died. I don’t know how to tell her.”
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