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As patients die, Ahmedabad Civil Hospital buries their medical history too

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Where are their medical files, ask families of Covid-19 patients who died at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. According to them, the hospital refuses to provide details of the line of treatment as well as the reason for the death of their loved ones. Besides agonizing them, it also creates hurdles for families in getting insurance claims cleared

Lakshmi Patel, Ahmedabad: Since the time coronavirus made its presence felt, many people have lost their lives to the dreaded Covid-19. The highly contagious nature of the virus prevents the near and dear ones from getting a proper closure as they do not even get to see the body for the last time.

In such a situation, when hospitals would be expected to be more empathetic to the families, the Asarwa Civil Hospital seems to have failed them miserably. According to such affected families, the hospital authorities neither provide details of the line of treatment nor explain the reason for death of a patient. Repeated requests fall on deaf ears, they allege. While the failure to get answers in itself is agonizing, what is worse is that they cannot even get insurance claims processes in absence of documents.

The complaints
What was the line of treatment for a patient? What was the ailment? What were the symptoms? Families of those who died at the hospital may not get these answers after all. In turn, they will never know if there was any negligence in treatment of their loved ones.

For, the hospital has been allegedly outrightly refusing to share these details. If a Covid patient dies during treatment, the family is not even given the file of medical history and treatment

Take the case of Rajesh Bhavsar, resident of Odhav in Ahmedabad, who was admitted to Civil Hospital. He succumbed to the infection on April 22, but till date his family does not know why he died or what his line of treatment was. His son Govinda Bhavsar told Gujarat Exclusive, “I repeatedly requested the RMO, CMO and doctors to tell me the reason for my father’s death. But till date, I have not got any response. I have not even got the file of his treatment. My father was insured, so the insurance company has been asking for it and the reason for the death in written. However, the hospital administration has flatly refused to provide these documents.”

He added, “Earlier, my father was admitted to a private hospital. When he tested positive, he was discharged as that hospital was non-Covid. We took him home. We called 108 for an ambulance on 108, but it did not arrive the entire day. Then I took him in a private vehicle to Shardaben and then LG Hospital. But they would not admit patients who were not brought in a 108 ambulance.”

Govinda tried at every private hospital, but could not get a bed for his father. He had to eventually take him back home. “On April 16, as his condition worsened, I once again took him in a private vehicle to UN Mehta hospital, but they refused to admit him. Then a 108 ambulance came and took my father to Civil where he was admitted.

Between April 16 and 21, my father used to talk to me daily. He would tell me they were not giving him any treatment. He even said he feared he would never return home. Then on April 21, his report came out negative, but the next day we received a call informing us about his death,” he added.

“For the hospital, my father’s death might be just a number, but for us, our world has collapsed. On top of that, till date we have no information on the treatment given to him, his condition, the tests conducted on him or any other detail. We have the right to this information,” said the distraught son.

In another case, a 58-year-old woman living in Chandkheda was admitted to the Civil Hospital as her oxygen saturation level dropped. At the time of admission, her oxygen level was 90. It further dropped to 80, after which she was put on bi-pap. The woman told her family over the phone that she was not receiving any treatment. Subsequently, her family members went to the hospital and requested the doctors to do something for the woman, but their requests went unheeded.

On May 2, when the woman’s daughter visited the hospital, she was asked to sign a document saying that the woman would have to be put on ventilator. But the patient was allegedly not provided one. Four hours later, the daughter received the news of her mother’s death. The family asked to know what treatment she was provided, but till date they have not received any details.

Chandlodia resident Roxy Gagdekar’s brother-in-law Umesh Tamanche breathed his last at the Civil Hospital in June 2020. In his social media post, Gagdekar vented his frustration at the family not being explained how Tamanche died. They were not even provided his medical file.

As per Gagdekar’s post, the family never got to know what treatment he was provided, whether he was on ventilator or which medicine he was provided.

To add salt to the injury, Tamanche’s mobile phone and watch had mysteriously disappeared. A complaint had been lodged at Shahibaug police station in this regard, but the family has not got any leads even on this front.

‘Violation of Constitutional rights’
Commenting on the situation, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “The Constitution of India states that a patient has the right to know about the treatment being provided. In case s/he is not in a position to seek the information, the family has the same right. If the patient dies during treatment, the family has the right to know the reason for the death. By not sharing the information, the Civil Hospital is violating Constitutional rights of a person.”

He added, “I fail to understand why the government is playing hide-and-seek. It is hiding figures of testing, positive cases and deaths. Even details of treatment given to Covid patients, as well as the reason for death if the person has died, are being withheld. I don’t think there can be a worse example of insensitivity and inhumane approach. I strongly feel that the families should be told about the line of treatment and the reason for death as the case may be. This is a serious matter. I hold the BJP government responsible for such criminal negligence.”

Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mewani had something similar to say. “Patients’ families have the right to know (about the treatment). Details of tests conducted, reports, medicines, injections administered, etc are all noted in the file. This file must be provided to the family so as to assist them with insurance claims or any other procedures. If the Civil Hospital is not providing this, it must improve its working,” he said.

Gujarat Exclusive tried to contact Civil Hospital’s medical superintendent JV Modi, but he could not be contacted. Principal Health Secretary Jayanti Ravi, too, could not be reached.

 

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