12 September 2009
By Deepak Bhagia
Bhagia family alleges negligence by city hospitals, following Ganga Bhagia’s death. Her nephew blogs about the ordeal
The Bhagia family claims that 65–yearold Ganga Bhagia died because of negligence. Ganga, was suspected of having contracted swine flu, but was later declared negative by the National Institute of Virology. The family sees her death as a casualty of the current swine flu epidemic and misdiagnosis by doctors. Deepak Bhagia, her nephew, gives us the sequence of events that led to her death.
Thursday, August 27
Ganga complained of breathlessness and fever. We took her to Deodhar Hospital in Pimpri at 9:30 am. The doctor said her lungs were fine, prescribed medication and asked us to monitor her for a day. In the afternoon her situation did not improve, so we called the doctor and he said, he wasn’t sure. We then admitted her to Ashwini Nursing Home in Pimpri with Dr Rajendra Rabde. Dr Rabde put her on saline and said her lungs are clear. Her temperature stayed high for the entire day.
We asked Dr Rabde again and he mentioned that she has a psychological problem. She was making loud breathing sounds. We then made a decision to get her X–ray done at our own will with Dr Burute. We took Ganga in the car and got the X–ray done. The X–ray showed a severe case of possible bilateral pneumonia.
6pm, August 28
We too a decision to go to Aditya Birla Hospital in Chinchwad. We reached the the emergency centre at about 6pm. The attending physician Dr Hemant Kulkarni told us that she had to be admitted to the ICU and asked us to deposit Rs 25,000. He came back in an hour later and told us that they did not have a ventilator, and asked us to shidt the her immediately. It took them about 45 minutess to give us the ambulance. They asked us to pay the bill before we could get the ambulance.
8pm, August 28
We then left for Jehangir Nursing Home. Jehangir kept her in emergency with oxygen, and said she was a Category C swine flu suspect. She needed the ventilator urgently, but they did not admit her to the ICU as they had no beds. The attending physician then made calls to experts in the hospital and wasted two hours. Meanwhile, breathing became more difficult for her. The noises of her breathing became louder. The attending physician told us to shift her immediately.
10:45 pm, August 28
We decided to go to Sassoon Hospital and reached there at 11:05 pm. We were directed to the Swine Flu ICU Infosys Ward. We rushed to the ward, there was nobody there. We asked everybody, but there were no attendants. We took the stretcher and ran with her to the ICU on the ground floor. The nurse told us that since she was a swine flu suspect, we had to go to the first floor. We ran to the first floor, still no help. The doctor there told us to take her to ground floor. It was then that we lost our cool and started screaming. Finally, the doctor started covering his sports shoes with a mask. It did not fit his sports shoes, but he still tried. Meanwhile, the sound of her breathing stopped. We knew she was no more. He then ran to put a tube in her mouth, but it was too late.
11:45pm, August 28
Ganga Bhagia passed away at Sassoon Hospital.
The next morning we went to Sassoon Hospital and it took us six hours to claim her body. It cost us Rs 2,000 to take her home. They even asked us for money to cover her body, and to transport her in an ambulance. They called a policeman from Pimpri to do a “Panchnama.” That night, we received a report that she was swine flu negative. I am writing this because we lost a precious life, I hope others do not.
Dr Rajendra Rabde, consulting physician: “When Ganga was brought to my clinic, she was suffering from loose motions and vomiting. I put her on a saline,as she looked dehydrated. She was not suffering from breathlessness, as to my knowledge. She was suffering from gastroenteritis. Next morning, the family took her for an X–ray and never came back. Earlier she had a right breast abscess (acute inflammation and infection with a collection of pus within the breast tissue).”
Dr Pandurang Pawar, MS, Sassoon General Hospital: “In the Infosys swine flu ward, there are sisters and doctors working 24 hours. It cannot be that there was no one to attend them. Out of the 37 swine flu cases reported in our hospital, 12 were negative.
Bhagia was one of them. Moreover, if the Bhagia family had complaints about our service, they should have come to us. I would have investigated the matter.”
Dr Prashant Mogalikar, MS, Jehangir Hospital: “It is true that we could not admit her to the ICU as we had no beds at that time. When the patient was brought to the hospital, she was critical but was stable. We shifted her to the casualty and stabalised her till we shifted her to the ambulance.”
Dr S P Singh, CEO, Aditya Birla Hospital: “Patient Ganga Bhagia, 65 yrs, female, was a case of right breast abscess and septicemia.On her arrival at the hospital, she was stabilised first and in view of her condition, the doctor felt she might require ventilatory support. The condition was explained to patient’s relatives. Due to non–availability of a ventilator, the relatives took a decision of transferring the patient to other hospital. We transferred the patient according to the wish of patient’s relatives.”
Dr Pradhan Pagaro is a pathologist and was very close to Ganga Bhagia. Being related to medical background, he was shaken by the entire episode. He said, “This has been a case of clinical negligence. Absence of ventilators and wrong diagnosis has led to her unfortunate death. I am sure she would have survived if everything had fallen in place at the right time.”