Medical practices are very much efficient, recorded and always under control. If there is any negligence then the guilty is always brought to justice, be it some doctors, nurses or para-medical support. During COVID-19, some political leaders of the opposition party were vigilante for 24/7 because they had to demine and destabilise the ruling government. There were many stories in the media circulated by one particular leader about the negligence of doctors and hospitals. The facts are that the media was prompt enough in showing these reports and above all the social media was hell-bent on attacking such hospitals. Doctors anywhere even the remotest part of India is probably the best as compared to anywhere else. But the rising number in COVID-19 cases had multiple challenges. Most of the time negligence is an assumption, dealing with the lives of human beings are not a cake walk, it is a huge responsibility and most of the doctors of Mumbai have handled it extremely well. Saying this I do not deny that there might be a few cases of negligence and that it needs an investigation procedure like they have in other countries. The judiciary is not entirely equipped to make a ruling on medical scenarios.
There are a lot of good doctors, but most hospitals are just commerce. There are laws to punish the guilty but medicine is very complex for courts to verify negligence and testifying doctors often take a pro collaborator stand. And most patients are just uninformed. Now that we are moving to the digital age there could be personal dockets for every patient and there could be CCTV cameras which will go a long way. Mostly because that would be a gross overreaction and would be highly problematic- shutting down an entire hospital would leave the surrounding community without medical care and lead to major pressure on nearby hospitals. Meanwhile, attacking government hospitals and their staff is too much to control already unstable conditions. Opposition does its job to topple the ruling government but to some extent they forget the similar cases happening during their tenure too. In a pandemic situation what hospitals need is support and silent vigilance. It would be very uncommon for every hospital department, or even most of it, to be involved in an error- indeed, a case of “gross neglect” might be the responsibility of as little as one member of staff out of thousands, depending on exactly what happened.
Attacking an entire hospital or government when almost all of it is performing up to standard and one or two bad apples have been identified is nothing short of extreme overkill and counterproductive. If there’s a major incident, usually the hospital or health department will undertake a review and put in procedures to rectify the issue. Under-performing staff may be removed or re-trained, bad policies corrected, or whatever is required. There are many, many steps to take to rectify a major incident beyond closing down the hospital! A hospital, like any complex organization, is a group of people, practices, facilities, and skills working together (or not). However, numerous hospitals, clinics, and doctor practices have been shut down for systemic failures of standards which have been proven to surpass mere individual employee/doctor failure. During the Pandemic there was a gross shortage of medical staff. The available doctors and medical fraternity people were rendering services determinedly. But too much attack on the government and doctors created panic in people to which even the court had to get involved.
The Bombay High Court had asked the Maharashtra government to make its stand clear on the issue of compensation to the family of Covid-19 victims for alleged culpable negligence by the state government and civic hospitals. The court took up the plea highlighting 11 incidents of negligence by the hospitals. The plea was filed by BJP MLA Ashish Shelar. The court also recommended that the state should implement guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in respect of body management and further guidelines prescribed by the Calcutta High Court in its judgment in September. The court also gave Shelar the liberty to suggest additional guidelines for body management in the state of Maharashtra. Amongst 10 other cases, Shelar’s affidavit in the case pointed out to a case of May 2020 when a woman had desperately tried to get an ambulance but got it only after 10 hours to take the body to a burial ground. Another example is the Jalgaon case where a woman was untraceable for eight days but was later found dead in the washroom. The dean and two other doctors of the hospital were suspended in the case.
In yet another case highlighted by Shelar from media reports was of a 62-year-old patient who lost life while waiting on a wheelchair at a hospital. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader on Tuesday hit out at the Maharashtra government over coronavirus treatment in Mumbai. BJP leader Nitish Rane posted a viral video on Twitter claiming that a patient died after 30 minutes he was admitted in Cooper Hospital in Mumbai. The state consumer commission in Maharashtra has directed a civic-run hospital in Navi Mumbai and a Chembur-based hospital to pay over Rs 15 lakh compensation to a woman whose husband died nine years ago due to “medical negligence”. The victim, Datta Sherkhane (40), an employee of BPCL, was treated for malaria instead of myocarditis (a heart ailment) at the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation Hospital in 2010, his wife alleged. She later shifted her husband to Chembur-based Sushrut Hospital, where the woman claimed that there was a delay in treatment, leading to her husband’s death. In another case the medical negligence of a doctor has led to the quarantine of as many as 40 people. Allegedly, a hospital located in Vasai, Mumbai discharged a patient without waiting for his COVID-19 test results. The hospital allegedly handed over the patient’s body before the arrival of his coronavirus tests. Over 40 people who attended the deceased’s funeral were quarantined after the hospital’s negligence came to the fore.
Two days back, a young man Suryabhan Yadav was suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) and he was undergoing treatment at Sewri Hospital, was admitted on September 30, all of sudden he disappeared on October 4th, later on his body was found on October 18 in the hospital toilet. Later on, Police handed over the body to his family. It is unfortunate that there have been dozens of such incidents in Maharashtra but that does not mean the government is not doing anything or doctors are bad. Some hospitals have some incidents gone wrong and they have been penalized for the same.