Heartless hospitals

Complaints of negligence of patients continue to pour in against private corporate hospitals. There have been cases in which the hospitals were ordered to pay heavy compensation to the relatives of dead patients. Inquiry Committees have been formed to go into specific allegations of neglect. A law has been passed by the State Legislature to control private clinics and hospitals. But nothing seems to have changed the old habit of money first, treatment next. The latest incident at a well-known corporate hospital at Salt Lake brings out the utter heartlessness of the hospital authorities to a member of its own staff whom the hospital refused to treat in an acute condition because she was supposed to be ‘covered’ by the ESI scheme. The doctor refused to treat her in the hospital she was serving and directed that she be taken to an ESI hospital. Result: a young nurse died without medical treatment in the very hospital she had been working for during the last three and a half years.
If this case ends as yet another news item in the day’s newspapers and nothing happens next, it will show not only the heartlessness of the hospital concerned but of the society as a whole. Hospitals are bound to treat emergency cases like this. But here was a nurse who was suffering from severe headache and vomiting for days. The doctor at the emergency advised an immediate ECG and CT scan. It was then that ‘rules’ were quoted that debarred her from being treated in her own hospital. Instead she was asked to be taken to an ESI hospital. She spared the hospital staff that trouble by passing away. A society which countenances greed of money to such an inhuman extent is a diseased society.
In another case in another hospital a patient died due to negligence. The West Bengal Clinical Establishments Regulatory Commission found the hospital guilty of mismanagement and misrepresentation of fact and directed it to pay a compensation of Rs. 30 lakhs to the parents of a baby who had died. The hospital authorities issued a cheque for the amount with a covering letter that asserted that though the hospital was not at all responsible for the death, out of sheer pity they were offering that money. Naturally, the couple refused to take the money and demanded punishment of the doctors concerned. Such unrepentant and haughty people should be dealt with more harshly. The remedy lies in expanding the capacity of the government medical hospitals so that more and more people can escape fleecing by private hospitals.

Saturday, 12 August, 2017