Sad Tales Of Negligence, Incompetence And Apathy At The Time of Coronavirus
By News Desk
We are constantly receiving various video clips and anecdotes of mistreatment of patients in majority of hospitals in Pakistan at the time of coronavirus. Many people are complaining that their family members were put in isolation ward of coronavirus even after testing negative for Covid19. Here we have a look at some of these stories.
Following is the ordeal of Ahsan Alavi from Karachi who shared the story of her grandmother’s demise due to mistreatment at the South City Hospital of Karachi.
Our ordeal with South City Hospital (Karachi) started when our beloved grandmother was admitted on the third Day of Eid. She was diagnosed with a tumor which was pressing her optic nerve. The doctor suggested a neurological procedure to remove the tumor through the nasal passage. The procedure happened, she regained consciousness and was seemingly fine putting us at ease. However, due to lack of trained staff, incompetence of the hospital administration and negligence by the Surgeon, her post-operative care was a complete disaster. In fact there was none at all (no physiotherapy & no mucus suction). Hence, she was diagnosed with a severe lung infection while recovery. Even this condition was diagnosed because one of our family members, who was attending to her had pointed out how she was breathing heavily and pressured the hospital staff to do a chest X-ray.
Due to the COVID-19 scare, the doctor’s insisted that their clinical diagnosis suggests she has COVID therefore two tests were conducted in a span of 48 hours but even before the results of the first test came back, she was shifted into isolation. Both results were negative but still the doctors insisted that according to their “clinical diagnosis” she was a COVID-19 patient and hence continued to keep her in isolation as per the SOPs.
Later, the doctors declared that she had a serious case of bacterial pneumonia. Still, she was kept in isolation because they were unable to rule out the “COVID-19 suspicion”. Her physician explicitly informed us she was slipping into acute depression due to isolation which was why her body was not responding to the medications the way it was supposed to. How hard can it be for a hospital charging us more than Rs.175,000 per day (in isolation) to set up some facility so that the patient could be connected to their families 24/7 via technology? The only preparation that they had was a 5 minute face time facility that the family could use by physically going to the hospital and standing outside the COVID ward risking their own health in the process. She spent 3-4 days in isolation in a state of fear (she had never slept alone for even one day in her entire life) and under severe depression. Finally she could not sustain and she breathed her last on 11th June 2020.
The chain of events demonstrating South City Hospital’s sheer incompetence is as follows:
1. The insensitive and callous attitude of the doctors, specifically Dr. Shahid Javaid Hussain (Pulmonologist) After days of trying to reach him, the morning that she passed away, he called us and had the audacity to say that he was ‘busy’ since the past 2 days. How busy could he possibly be to fulfill the basic requirement that he had to keep the family in the loop knowing that we had no other source of getting updates especially when he had agreed to do so over a text conversation? Considering how she was in isolation and completely cut off from her family and the fact that we were paying a fortune, was it such a big ask to get regular updates from the specialist doctor? While I understand that we are in the midst of a pandemic and our healthcare workers are already stretched thin, callousness and apathy are attitudes we should never justify when it comes to a medical practitioner’s duty of care. In the last few days that she spent in isolation, we are doubtful if he even did his duty rounds and saw her since this case fell under his area of expertise. We even tried contacting him via mutual contacts and WhatsApp but he was nowhere to be found. Keep in mind that this was an extremely aged patient who had never spent a day apart from her family and now she was confined into the four walls of an unknown hospital room.
2. The hospital staff and management were a blend of incompetence, insensitivity and lack of responsibility. Our grandmother went into the hospital with no underlying lung infection but post procedure, her lungs were heavily infected. This shows that she contracted this pneumonia while being in the hospital premises. Moreover, there were discrepancies and contradictions between the statements that the hospital was providing. Also, calling the hospital was the only form of connection that we had but there were countless instances when they didn’t pick up the phone, including the night before she passed away, which put us in a complete communication blackout.
We were charged an exorbitant amount of Rs.700,000 for the 4 days that she was in isolation. Were we being charged for negligence, complete ignorance for our grandmother’s mental health or the communication gaps that the doctors and staff had caused? This is probably the most expensive hospital of the city and the least they could do is have an efficient management and competent medical practitioners and with the amount of money that we paid, it was well within our right to expect the best possible treatment. It was well within our rights to expect that her mental health was given a priority. It was well within our grandmother’s right to not go away from this world in a state of fear and loneliness.
The point of this post is to spread awareness about the lack of accountability and the unmatchable ignorance of the hospital. Their irresponsible attitude created a massive trust deficit between us and South City Hospital because of which, even now, there is so much uncertainty that lies within us regarding what the hospital did or did not do. Bear in mind, her death certificate mentioned the reason for death as pneumonia & cardiac arrest clubbed with the fact that she did not have fever or body aches even once during her respiratory illness. Did she really have COVID-19? Did she really need to be isolated? Was the hospital just minting money? These are the type of questions we are asking ourselves. This is to remind everyone how for some of these hospitals, that charge us an arm and a leg, our loved ones are just another statistic. We will not be able to get our grandmother back but maybe our horrifying experience may help save the lives of your loved one.
I also appeal to the relevant authorities to take note of this matter and form some sort of a regulatory body to monitor such hospitals that charge extortionate amounts of money without any standard of service leading to the loss of valuable lives.