KOCHI: Allegations of medical negligence against the Ernakulam Medical College Hospital (MCH) continued to surface on Wednesday with more bereaved families joining the clamour for accountability and justice. They even alleged that the hospital sought money for “special treatment” of patients. The charges were raised even as the doctor, who lent credence to the whistleblower nurse’s account of lapses causing deaths, stuck to her statement, punching holes in the hospital’s denial of culpability.
Director of Medical Educat ion Remla Beevi, who has been asked to look into the deaths, held a meeting with the MCH authorities and said a detailed report would be submitted to the government. On Wednesday, families of two more patients --- Baihakki and Jameela, who died at the hospital on July 24 and August 17 respectively --- raised allegations of serious negligence on the part of the hospital staff.
Lending strength to their claims, Dr Najma Salim refuted the hospital authorities’ argument that she was not on duty when C K Harris, whose death was blamed on negligence, and Baihakki were undergoing treatment in the ICU. “We had received an audio message from Baihakki, seeking extra money for special treatment at the hospital,” said Nisthar K A, Baihakki’s elder brother.
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“Baihakki asked us for Rs 40,000 in two cheques of Rs 20,000 each. He said the nature of care at the hospital was being decided through another channel, and that if we paid them more, they would take good care,” said Nisthar K A, Baihakki’s elder brother. He said his brother may have observed such practices at the hospital, without which there was no need for him to seek immediate money for treatment.
Hairuneesa, daughter of Jameela, who was a resident of Manakkapady near Aluva, said her mother used to complain of breathing difficulties.
“It’s after Dr Najma’s confirmation of the voice clip (put out by nursing officer Jalaja Devi, who first brought out the negligence aspect) that we came to know that it was sheer negligence on the part of the hospital staff. My mother used to complain of breathing difficulties and always used to request us to shift her from there. We thought it was because she was alone there. Now it has come to light that she died due to medical negligence,” said Hairuneesa. Earlier, Dr Najma had revealed that there was a delay in providing ventilator assistance to Baihakki and oxygen support to Jameela at the hospital. She also disagreed with the hospital authorities’ insinuation that she was not on duty on the day when Harris and Baihakki were in the ICU.
The duty list signed by the nodal officer of the hospital, Dr Fathahudeen, shows Dr Najma’s name. “The authorities have signed the duty list and my name is mentioned in it. How can they claim now that I was not on duty? I saw Baihakki having difficulty in breathing and the ventilator was down. I had to yell at the staff to rectify the issue with the ventilator,” said Dr Najma.
Kerala Government Medical College Teachers’ Association President Dr Vidukumar K, meanwhile, said in a press release that a detailed probe is required into charges made against the MCH. He, however, sought not to dampen the morale of the staff working sincerely at the hospital.“The staff has been working continuously on Covid duty for over nine months,” he said.
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