Haryana Government probing the death of the seven-year-old girl who died of dengue finds Fortis Hospital guilty of medical negligence and over-charging the patient’s family. According to NDTV, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said that the government intends to file a police case against the hospital.
“In simple words, it was not a death, it was a murder,” Anil Vij declared. The government probe also accused the hospital of making 108 percent profit on medicines given to the girl and as high as 1,737 percent profit on consumables. Vij also claimed that the hospital did not follow the basic protocol when the father wanted to transfer the girl to another hospital.
The probe panel also indicted the hospital for not reporting the dengue case to the state government when the young girl was admitted.
In another revelation, the father of the 7-year-old alleged that the hospital administration tried to bribe him with Rs 25 lakh in cash to prevent him from continuing his social media campaign.
Speaking to ANI, Jayant Singh claimed that the hospital administration said they will write off the entire bill that he had to pay and then decided to pay an additional amount of 25 lakhs so that he stops the social media campaign against Fortis.
“Senior members of Fortis met me and offered me a cheque worth Rs 10,37,889 refunding the entire amount,” says Jayant in a Times Now.
He further added, “They also said they will be offering me Rs 25 lakh cash on top of this, said that I will have to sign and enter into a legal agreement assuring to stop my social media campaign or going to court and taking legal action against them.”
What happened earlier?
The parents of the 7-year-old girl alleged Fortis Hospital, Gurugram, charged them Rs 18 lakhs for a 15-day stay, at the end of which, the girl Adya died.
The parents also said that they were allowed to take their daughter’s body only after paying the bill which was 19 pages long.
Adya was suffering from dengue and in a Facebook post, her father spoke about the alleged corruption by the private hospital.
The family had first taken the girl to Rockland Hospital in Dwarka, but after two days of admission, she was shifted to the pediatric ICU of Fortis.
“The day when we had to shift her to the hospital suggested by them, the Rockland hospital did not arrange an ambulance with the lame excuse that we don’t provide an ambulance for the patients who are referred for other hospitals. While almost five ambulances were queued up straight to bring the patients to the hospital but none were available for the discharged patients. We had to arrange our own ambulance to take her to Fortis Medical Research Institute (FMRI) Gurgaon, even in that emergency situation,” said the father in the Facebook post.
After 15 days of treatment at Fortis, he said that the child’s brain was largely damaged and recovery was not possible.
The hospital allegedly gave the family two options – either to continue the medical treatment or opt for LAMA (leaving against medical advice). The father added that secretly they were given a third option of taking Adya home, with the ventilator still connected to her.
“We were not able to understand the conspiracy behind such an advice then, but now when this amount of time has passed thinking about the loss of Adya, we have understood that if they would have removed Adya from ventilator it would then have been compulsory for them to report the death due to dengue in their hospital premises,” said the father.
In the end, they were handed a bill of Rs 18 lakh and was asked to arrange for the ambulance themselves.
The father said that the bill included items, including the gown Adya wore during treatment and on her last day. “The last nail was when the ambulance attendant asked for the sheet in which Adya was wrapped as it had a GPS chip for hospital records. We had to pay for that sheet as well.”
In a series tweets, a family friend revealed the plight of the parents.
He tweeted that they were charged for 660 syringes (that was later changed to 1,600) which means that 40 syringes were pumped into the 7-year-old everyday. They also charged the family for 2,700 gloves.
In his tweets, he also attached images of the bill, with one of the pages showing that sugar strips which are available for Rs 13/strip on the hospital’s website were billed at Rs 200/strip.
“As a side conversation, they recommended a full body plasma transplant (~ Rs 15-20 lakh procedure) despite CT scan declaring 70%+ brain damage. When the family asked the rationale when the case was already hopeless, they (Fortis) said the rest of the organs may recover,” he added.
The family was insisting for an MRI/CTC scan to check of Adya was even alive as she was on life support since day five.
The incident drew a lot of outrage, with people blaming the hospital and its doctors for the death of Adya. To this, the family friend said in tweets, “At no point have I stated all doctors as crooks. If you do, you dilute the matter to immature generalisations. It is a noble profession and your sweeping abuse tells your character more than theirs…The entire point of the thread was to highlight the sheer apathy towards Adya and the family.”
Ajey Maharaj, head corporate communication, Fortis Hospital said all standard medical protocols were followed and all clinical guidelines were adhered to.
“An itemised bill over 20 pages was explained and handed to the family…Patient was treated in the Paediatric ICU for 15 days and was critical right from the time of admission, requiring intensive monitoring,” he said, reported The Indian Express.
“Treatment during these 15 days included mechanical ventilation, high-frequency ventilation, continuous renal replacement therapy, intravenous antibiotics, inotropes, sedation and analgesia. Care of ventilated patients in ICU requires a high number of consumables… All consumables are transparently reflected in records and charged as per actuals,” he added.
Union Health Minister JP Nadda has sought for a report from Fortis and assured the family that all necessary actions would be taken into the case.
The Logical Indian take
Any words of sympathy will fall short to shrink the harassment faced by the family and the grief of their daughter’s demise.
The state of private hospitals in our country isn’t unknown to Indians, more than half of whom cannot even afford decent health care.
We could direct our anger at Fortis Hospital and talk about ethics when a person’s life is at stake, however, the fat bill handed to Adya’s family speaks of a deeper issue – India does not have universal healthcare (UHC) and the government has made no impactful strides toward making healthcare affordable.
UHC was one of the many poll promises of the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stated that India could become a world leader in affordable healthcare, professed that India would soon have the “best healthcare system” in the world and announced intentions to ensure healthcare for all Indians.
As such, when the present government took office in 2014, there were high hopes of the health sector being given the attention it deserved.
But three years hence, we still wait, with the graph of expectation plunging every day.
Eight months after the National Health Assurance Mission (NHAM) was introduced by the PM Modi-led government in 2014, it was killed citing budgetary concerns.
Then came the National Health Policy (NHP), which envisioned the government as the biggest provider of healthcare in the country. It was approved by the Cabinet in March this year.
The NHP was widely criticised as it fell short in many areas, focussed mainly on revamping public hospitals, made hardly any stride towards making healthcare universal, and its impact was highly assumption-based and could be studied only in the long-term.
India’s health spending is 1.5% of its GDP, against the 2.5% UN mandate and the 5.4% global mean.
The persistent depravity that plagues the public health sector in India has meant that the private sector has dominated this scene. The private sector provides fair-quality services but at extremely high prices. This increases the Catastrophic Health Expenditure (CHE) for families.
(CHE occurs when out-of-pocket payments for health services consume such a large portion of a household’s available income that it is pushed into poverty).
When a million Indians die every year due to lack of adequate healthcare and the Economic Survey 2016-17 recommended progress in healthcare, why does the government not give the sector due importance? Partly because the other issues that India faces like government corruption, border disputes, religious tensions, etc make universal healthcare seem less important.
It is time that healthcare is taken more seriously by Indian policymakers and citizens’ lives are cared for.