Doctors at the AIIMS in Bhubaneswar have accused the medical superintendent of wilfully failing to disclose his son’s coronavirus symptoms, an incident that has led to at least three doctors in self-quarantine and fears of exposure among others at the hospital.
The 19-year-old boy is the second positive case of the COVID-19 in Odisha after a research scholar tested positive following his return from Italy. “This young man returned from the UK. He is stable. His family has been ordered to be in home quarantine,” government spokesperson Subroto Bagchi said.
A letter purportedly written on behalf of the Residents Doctors Association (RDA) of the AIIMS in Bhubaneshwar has alleged, ”The RDA would like to bring to your notice the gross negligence on part of the Medical Superintendent and Isolation Unit in-charge while handling COVID-19 suspects. It has come to our notice that a patient, age 19 years, was brought to the isolation unit and kept in the Doctors’ Room with his travel history concealed. Also, the patient was not admitted for 12 hours. When enquired about the case, the isolation unit in-charge said it was a high-profile case and did not disclose the details. He himself filled up the case sheet of the patient while hiding the relevant travel history.”
“This patient tested positive on March 19 and is the second case of COVID in Odisha,” the letter claimed, adding, “it was found that the patient was the son of the Medical Superintendent.” Calling the incident a “medical and administrative negligence”, the letter stated that “we feel betrayed by our own”.
One of the doctors, who claimed to have written the letter, said on condition of anonymity, “The whole world is being advised to come forward. This is shameful behaviour by a senior doctor.”
However, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar Director Dr Gitanjali Batmanabane said, “I met with the RDA to enquire about the letter. I was told it is unsigned. Someone has sent it mischievously. There has been lack of communication. There was no wilful suppression of the status and identity of the patient.”
The Indian Express also spoke to two doctors who said they have taken leave because of “secondary exposure” to the patient through his father — the medical superintendent. One of the doctors said, “I have 78-year-old parents. I only came to know the superintendent’s son has tested positive after I saw a message on our WhatsApp group. Though I have secondary contact with the father, I have been advised self-quarantine.”
Dr Gitanjali Batmanabane said some doctors have requested leave but did not confirm that it was due to exposure.
The Medical Superintendent did not respond to requests for comment.
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