Kerala's Government Medical College Hospital in Ernakulam has swirled into controversy after an audio clip of the senior nursing officer went viral, in which she narrated alleged negligence in connecting the ventilator 'leading' to the death of a COVID-19 patient. Member of Parliament from the city, Hibi Eden met the family of the deceased.
The incident has sparked outrage, prompting the Kerala government to order a probe on Monday.
In the WhatsApp audio clip, which was allegedly sent to her fellow staff members, Jalaja Devi is heard saying that 'misplacement' of the ventilator tubes led to the death of the man in the intensive care unit. Not only the patient died gasping for oxygen, but the negligence could also have put the lives of other patients at stake.
"Today, some doctors reported that oxygen masks were not found properly fitted on many patients. Masks were found displaced, not fitted to the face. Ventilator tubes should be seen whether properly inserted into nostrils. Doctors have reported that due to our negligence, many patients have lost their lives. Unluckily, if we are caught, that would become a major issue. A patient's ventilator tube was found not inserted into his nostril. In fact, he had been fit to be shifted out of ventilator support. His relatives have complained about death. But doctors have not disclosed anything to protect us. Otherwise, things would have become a big issue," Devi's voice note as quoted by The Indian Express.
Following, the family of the deceased petitioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking action. In contrast, the hospital authorities have dismissed the allegation, calling them baseless. Denying the allegations, medical college superintendent Dr Peter Vazhayil told the media that the patient was on a non-invasive ventilator in which the breathing tube would not get disconnected. Therefore, there was no negligence from their side.
After the audio clip went viral on social media, netizens demanded a probe in the case.
Vijayan said the issue is a 'serious one and would dent the image of the state health sector. He assured the family of looking into the issue and taking necessary steps. In addition, Health Minister KK Shailaja directed the Medical Education Director to carry out a detailed inquiry and submit a report on a priority basis.