A 59-year-old woman from Tandalja area in Vadodara, Farzana (name changed) waited inside an ambulance on oxygen support for over six hours for admission to a bed with ventilator at Vadodara’s GMERS-run hospital in Gotri, a dedicated Covid-19 hospital, on May 21.
Her family members alleged that they then approached the Vadodara Municipal Corporation- run SSG hospital, which also refused to admit her. A few hours later, the woman died.
“She was Covid-19 negative. She had a lung condition for a few years and needed timely treatment. We lost her because despite ventilators being available, we were told that they have been kept for Covid-19 ward,” her son said.
Husnuddin Saiyed (67) from Ahmedabad’s Gomtipur area, a kidney patient, died when he was refused timely dialysis by private and government hospitals which insisted on getting the Covid-19 test done first, his family alleged.
His son Aejazahmed Saiyed said that Husnuddin, who retired as a driver from Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS), had been undergoing dialysis twice a week at Narayana Hospital in Rakhiyal for last one-and-a-half years. But on May 12, he was refused dialysis by the hospital as he had low grade fever.
“The doctors insisted we get the Covid-19 test done first. We then requested them to prescribe the Covid-19 test, which they refused to,” Aejazahmed said.
A a general physician gave a prescription and he was tested positive on May 13. He was finally taken to Ahmedabad Civil hospital and taken for dialysis early next morning. But the family found “lapses” on hospital’s part. “We then shifted him to Tapan Hospital by a private ambulance. But within minutes of reaching there he was declared dead,” Aejazahmed added.
In Vadodara, several non-Covid patients have complained that most private hospitals insisted on the Covid-19 tests before the treatment as per the government protocol, thus leading to delays.
On Tuesday, the Gujarat government has revised its testing policy allowing emergency and life-saving procedures to be carried out on patients, without waiting for Covid-19 tests.
The family of a 65-year-old woman from Manjalpur claims she passed away due to a delay in treatment for diabetes, at a private hospital.
The woman’s daughter said, “We rushed her to a private hospital. They said that Covid-19 test was mandatory before any emergency treatment. The results took a day and my mother passed away just hours after they began the treatment. She tested Covid-19 negative.”
The private hospital denied the allegation saying that primary treatment was administered to the patient while awaiting the Covid-19 test result but the case was “complicated as it was a stroke,” said the consulting physician. Private hospitals are also facing criticism for turning away regular patients seeking kidney dialysis and other treatments.
A 45-year-old bank executive from Vadodara, who has been undergoing dialysis at a private hospital in Diwalipura said he was asked to go to the SSG hospital for further dialysis process during the pandemic.“At SSG hospital I realised that the staff of the dialysis unit leaves the patient alone once the equipment is operational,” he said.
At GMERS Gotri hospital, a 49-year-old woman who was brought in as a Covid-19 case after undergoing a vascular surgery at Dhiraj Medical College and developing subsequent complication of gangrene, was asked to go to a private hospital for further treatment. Gohar Khan, her husband, said that his wife had injured her left hand leaving it immobile.
“She had tested Covid-19 negative and they performed a surgery on her hand. But her hand developed gangrene within two days. They then told us she was showing symptoms of Covid-19. After she tested positive and they shifted her to GMERS Gotri without our consent. There she was left unattended on the floor for hours in pain. The hospital authorities, on Monday, told us that she had tested negative again and we could take her to a private hospital for further treatment,” Khan said.
Khan said that he requested the, to perform the surgery to amputate the woman’s hand but were told there were no doctors at the hospital. “On Monday, they insisted on discharging her and her hand had turned black until the elbow. We took her to a private hospital where she underwent amputation,” Khan said.
Superintendent of GMERS Dr Vishala Pandya said that she was not aware of Farzana’s case and added, “Our non-Covid-19 facility is open and we are treating everyone. This specific case, we have records to show that she was admitted in the wee hours of May 22 but we are tracing further records of what happened to her and when did she die. She must have definitely received the treatment that was needed. There could have been a delay but we generally never have delays beyond half an hour of a patient being in ambulance.”
A first report of Farzana prepared by GMERS Gotri, shared by the family, states she was brought in a condition of hypoglycemia and cardiac arrest and was revived by CPR. It also states that the patient should be shifted to casualty and there is “no need for nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs” for Covid-19 test.
About Gohar Khan’s wife case, Pandya said, “We advised them to consult a vascular surgeon before amputation as the first surgery performed was unsuccessful. We do not have a vascular surgeon. We could have amputated her arm but we asked them to visit a specialist. During her stay at GMERS, we took care of her and treated her for Covid-19.”
GMERS Gotri has 30 invasive and non-invasive ventilators for Covid-19 patients, while about 14 ventilators for other patients, Pandya said.
Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao said that while the lockdown hampered private hospitals from running to their full capacity owing to shortage of staff, the current unlocking of the services will make treatment available to all patients. “We have issued advisory to the private hospitals to offer services to all patients,” Rao said.
(WITH INPUTS FROM RITU SHARMA IN AHMEDABAD)
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