Mumbai: After being turned away by two private hospitals in the city, a 59- year-old woman succumbed to her illness early on May 11 at Kasturba Hospital, her relatives allege. The day before, she had suffered breathing problems, following which she visited PD Hinduja and Lilavati Hospitals.
However, at both places she was allegedly refused treatment 'for lack of beds' and was eventually admitted to Kasturba. Relatives said the woman would have been saved had she received timely treatment and the BMC should take strict action against hospitals who turn away patients.
Harinakkshi Nair, the patient'ssister, said her sister had been coughing for a few days and had been taking antibiotics. She had developed a bitter taste in her mouth and so had cut down on eating. On May 10, she developed weakness and they consulted their family doctor, who advised them to take her to Hinduja Hospital.
“When the family doctor made a house call, he noted her laboured breathing and advised us to move her to Hinduja, Mahim. There we met by Dr Chatterjee, who refused to admit her, saying they did not have any beds and I should take her to Kasturba (presuming that she was a Covid patient).
All my entreaties fell on deaf ears, “she claimed. From there, the woman’s sister took her to Lilavati Hospital, only to be turned away without any help.
The doctor refused to admit her, saying there were no beds available and also refused to give her oxygen, saying they didn't have any, claims the woman’s sister.
“When the doctor refused to give her oxygen, I made the doctor talk to my uncle, Dr Sharad Phatnic, who also made the same request, but he refused, saying they did not have it! They did not want to entertain a suspected Covid patient.
The doctor kept saying, take her to another hospital, we have no empty beds,” Nair alleged. While the state govt has issued notification after notification, making it mandatory for hospitals to create a system of triage and treat patients even if a Covid-19 test result is pending, on the ground, hospitals are allegedly not following the orders. In a meeting earlier this week with the heads of private hospitals, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had asked them to create a waiting area for suspected Covid-19 patients and provide them treatment.
The government has warned of action under Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, but it is yet to penalise any hospital for non-compliance. It was almost two hours after that the ailing woman was finally admitted to Kasturba.
But it was too late.“ After we were turned away from Lilavati and Hinduja Hospitals, the ambulance boy took us to Kasturba, a dedicated Covid hospital. Here too, at first, the authorities refused to admit her but when they saw her condition, they took her in and started treatment, “she said.
Doctors at Kasturba said the patient was a non-Covid case but had comorbidities, to which she succumbed, at 3.30am on May 11. A spokesperson from the PD Hinduja Hospital refused to comment.
There was no response from the COO Lilavati Hospital, Dr V Ravishankar, either. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said the civic body has not received any complaint about this incident. “We can only take action if there is a complaint made against the hospital,” he said.