Two incidents of apparent medical apathy at different hospitals in Kerala over the weekend has triggered uproar in a state that has been hailed for its health system, with Health Minister K K Shailaja on Monday ordering a probe into each incident and calling for strict action against the errant staff.
The state human rights commission has also ordered probe into both incidents.
On Saturday, a nine-month pregnant woman from Malappuram district lost her twins – they were stillborn – after the 22-year-old was forced to shuttle between hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts for 14 hours while in labour pain. Shahala Thasni was denied admission in any hospitals she approached since she did not possess an RT-PCR test report for Covid-negative, even though she had a negative report done on an antigen test, according to her husband, N C Muhammed Shareef.
On Sunday, a person admitted on August 22 with injuries from a fall, and who seemingly got Covid-19 infection while at the medical college hospital in Thiruvanan-thapuram, was discharged with maggots all over his body. Anil Kumar’s daughter, Anjana, said, “We saw worms all over his body…it was riddled with bedsore. His skinny ribcage showed he was not given proper food.”
Thasni, who had tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month, was tested negative in an antigen test done at Manjeri Medical College Hospital in Malappuram and returned home on September 15, Shareef said. As her due date was approaching, she had checked with a local private hospital last Thursday but found the hospital reluctant to admit a pregnant woman who had been a Covid-19 patient, he said.
Early Saturday, after Thasni felt labour pains, Shareef took her to Manjeri hospital, where the staff allegedly refused to attend to her. They allegedly told her that since it is a dedicated coronavirus hospital, only Covid-19 patients will be admitted.
Shareef said, “We were told to go to the government women and children’s hospital in Kozhikode. As the hospital did not have a gynaecologist at the time, the staff there asked us to visit Kozhikode Medical College Hospital – they also told advised us that it would be better to seek admission in a private hospital, as the medical college would be crowded with Covid-19 patients.”
Shareef said he called up Santhi Private Hospital, 30 km from Kozhikode. “But the hospital said a negative RT-PCR certificate was required for admission.’’
The couple then went to KMCT private medical college hospital, which admitted her after conducting antigen test. But with her condition serious, doctors there referred Thasni to Kozhikode medical college, Shareef said. By the time Thasni got there, it had been over 14 hours since she left home looking for a labour room. A Caesarean was conducted, but the twins were stillborn.
Shailaja said, “This should not have happened. the government has directed the Health Secretary to look into it. Action will be taken based on the report.”
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