Murugan’s death raises eyebrows on credibility of Government Hospitals

Amid strengthening furore over the death of a migrant labourer, doctors of private hospitals have questioned the credibility of Government hospitals where common men are denied treatment.

Murugan, 35, a migrant labourer from Tirunelveli, who worked as a domestic help in Kollam, met with a bike accident on Sunday around 11 pm and was immediately rushed to the KIMS Hospital, Kollam. The hospital arranged a local ambulance service equipped with ventilator facility and referred the case to the multi-speciality hospital Meditrina as there was heavy brain injury.

“We checked the patient and found that there was heavy internal bleeding which urgently needed a neurosurgery. He had already received immediate primary care from KIMS, Kollam. Our neurosurgeon was on his weekend leave and we were sure the patient was struggling with his brain injury. We are one of the rare private hospitals which admit patients without bystanders. We have admitted similar cases without bystanders earlier several times. But this time we were helpless as we were sure that we could not arrange the immediate operation the patient badly required. So we referred the case to any of the nearby hospitals where a surgery could be performed,” says Dr. Prathapan, who is a cardiologist associated with Meditrina Hospital, Kollam.

The ambulance staff Rahul and Rajesh took him to Medicity Hospital where he was reportedly denied treatment as he had no bystanders. Murugan spent nearly seven hours in the ambulance before he succumbed to his injuries.

The ambulance drivers took him to four private hospitals in Kollam district and several hospitals in Thiruvanathapuram including the Government Medical College. He was denied treatment in these hospitals saying there were no ventilator facilities and surgeons at that time. It is also alleged that the private hospitals denied treatment as there was no sufficient documents to prove the patient’s identity.

Dr Prathapan flayed the Government Medical College authorities who denied treatment to a commoner. “The government hospitals are meant for the general public. If they cannot ensure treatment to a dying patient who is a commoner, whose life it claims to protect? Will they deny treatment to a Minister or a bureaucrat who seek immediate care in late night? They sure won’t do that. The problem is with the system here. Those who point fingers towards the private hospitals should be courageous enough to raise their voice against the injustice shown by a Government institute towards a commoner,” Dr Prathapan opined.

When the private hospitals in Kollam did not attend Murugan’s case, he was taken to the Government Medical College, Thiruvanathapuram. The hospital did not attend the case saying that there was no ventilator facility in the hospital. The ambulance drivers further took him to SUT Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram where he was not admitted and later to Assesia hospital in Kollam. Murugan is survived by wife and two children. His relatives from Tirunelveli collected his body from the District Hospital, Kollam, after post-mortem.

Kottiyam police who is investigating the case has registered an FIR against the hospitals which denied Murugan access to medical care under section 304(a) of IPC. The police registered case following the ambulance drivers’ complaint against the hospitals’ authorities.

The Supreme Court guideline issued in March 2016 for promoting accident reporting by the eyewitnesses had clearly mentioned that disciplinary action could be taken against doctors who deny medical care in urgent cases such as road accidents for ‘professional misconduct’ under chapter 8 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002.

When asked about this as well as the misconduct by the Government Medical College in providing necessary and immediate medical attention to a dying patient, Director of Medical Education Dr Remla Beevi  declined to answer saying that she would not respond to such queries over phone.

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