On June 16, 20-year-old Raj Kumar, hailing from Satgawan block in Koderma district of Jharkhand suffered from a grievous head injury due to road accident.
The wound on his head continued to bleed when his family and relatives rushed him to the closest private hospital expecting immediate medical attention that would save his life.
However, the doctors and medical staff at Gita Devi Memorial Hospital denied treatment and instead referred the wounded boy to the block's Prathmik Swasthya Kendra (Primary Healthcare Centre).According to the boy's father, Bhagirath Vishvakarma, as soon as they reached the healthcare centre, the bleeding wound was cleaned by the nursing staff but the doctor at the centre refused to treat his injury and further referred him to Sadar Hospital in Koderma.
"I availed the ambulance service from the healthcare centre to carry my son to Sadar Hospital for treatment. The staff did not provide us with an oxygen cylinder, even when my son was bleeding profusely and need one. They did not even send any health worker to assist us. After an hour-long journey, we somehow reached the hospital," the 43-year-old father told Sangram Jharkhand, a social service organisation.
On reaching the state-run facility, the family was appalled when they were told that the hospital did not have the medical thread to sew stitches for the closure of the wound. The panic-stricken family wanting to save the life of their only child rushed to the medical shop to get the thread.
After spending a considerable time arranging the equipment, Raj's wounds were stitched but he was again referred to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, which was around 100 kilometres away, while every minute of delay in treatment was taking a toll on Raj's head injury and his body.
"I dialled 108 to book an ambulance because I was desperate to save my son's life. When the ambulance arrived, the hospital staff detached the oxygen supply from Raj's face and did not allow us to carry the cylinder. It took at least 40-45 minutes to convince the medical staff and complete the paperwork that would allow us to carry the oxygen cylinder with us.
Raj was bleeding, he had started facing difficulty while breathing. After covering a distance of around 10 kilometres, on realizing that my son had started losing consciousness, I asked the ambulance driver to stop at any hospital to which he denied and said the final stop would be only when they reach the hospital in Ranchi," said the father.
Somehow they halted and instead took Raj to a local hospital, on the way, for immediate treatment but Raj Kumar had already died.
Next day, the family members, relatives of the deceased and the local residents sat in protest against the medical apathy in the state and also voiced their anger against poor medical infrastructure.
Sangram Jharkhand started an online petition seeking justice for Raj demanded accountability from the doctors and the medical staff at the primary healthcare centres in the state. The petition highlighted that this was not an isolated case of medical negligence at Sadar Hospital. On an average at least 10-25 patients are being referred to RIMS hospital in Ranchi, in which, several die while on the way to the hospital.
Another incident owing to lack of timely medical facility involved the death of a 20-year-old pregnant woman in Satgawan on Wednesday, July 23.
According to local newspapers, the pregnant woman was experiencing labour pain when the family dialled for availing the ambulance service and shifting her to the nearest hospital. Due to the non-availability of the vehicle, locals resorted to carrying her on a cot. She died on her way to the healthcare centre.
According to TimesNow, another pregnant woman was forced to travel around 120 km after doctors at the Sadar hospital refused to perform a c-section. The woman travelled from Bokaro to Ranchi on Friday, July 24, even as she had been experiencing labour pain.
According to the guidelines, primary healthcare centres which are state-run rural healthcare facilities should be equipped with 24-hour nursing services and each centre should have a minimum of two doctors apart from a desirable third, along with three nurses, one lab technician and one pharmacist.
However, several media reports have highlighted the pitiful condition of such centres operating in ill-equipped make-shift buildings which fail to cater timely medical attention to the patients and have resulted in being the reason of more deaths in the state.