Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala’s preoccupation with fighting the novel coronavirus has led to more people losing their lives compared to the number of deaths due to the virus outbreak.
With hospitals attending to coronavirus patients on a priority, patients suffering critical illnesses and needing immediate care are often denied timely treatment, with the result that a number of people have died due to complications from medical negligence.
Harrowing tales are coming out from hospitals on a regular basis where patients have been sent to observation for suspected COVID-19 attack, while their life-threatening conditions due to ailments like heart and kidney diseases go unattended.
In the latest such incident, a family from Kozhikode has accused the Medical College Hospital in the city of taking the life of a heart and kidney patient due to the failure of the authorities to give him the regular medicines despite frantic appeals by his wife.
The man was sent to an isolation room after it was suspected that he had contacted the virus. The wife was asked to stay away as per the protocol. The man kept complaining to his wife on phone that he was not given his usual medication and that he was facing problem in breathing. The wife kept calling the staff and complaining, but with no success. The man died the next morning.
To make matters worse, his body was not released pending the result of the coronavirus test. Finally, when the result came, he had tested negative, indicating that he had died due to his medical condition from heart and kidney ailments going unattended.
With the focus remaining entirely on the fight against the virus, such incidents do not get adequate media attention. These incidents do not find mention in the chief minister’s daily COVID-19 briefing, which incidentally attracts prime time viewing on television channels.
Kerala officially has only two coronavirus deaths, a statistics that the state has been proudly publicising. A third death due to the virus attack was not included in the state’s account as the patient had come from the neighbouring Puducherry to seek treatment in the state.
In fact, over 30 Keralites have died due to coronavirus attack in various parts of the world, including the US, UK and the Arabian Gulf. Compared to that number, Kerala’s record of two deaths is considered very impressive and this figure is often cited by the state authorities to highlight the efficacy of the state’s fight against coronavirus.
The Kozhikode Medical College Hospital authorities have denied any wrong doing in Thursday’s incident saying that patient was brought to the hospital in a bad condition. At the same time, public health experts are maintaining that this is a problem faced all over the world as treatment of COVID-19 takes precedence over everything else.
They also acknowledge the unfortunate tendency of doctors and medical staff to feel deterred to attend to coronavirus patients for fear of contracting the disease. The doctors and nurses often do not have full-fledged protection from virus infection due to paucity of equipment.
This also leads to critical needs of the patients going unattended as they are taken for granted as suffering from coronavirus attack, pending the receipt of results, often leading to the proper protocols not being followed.