31-year-old Bengaluru COVID-19 patient dies after struggling to find ICU bed

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has sent a notice to two private hospitals and launched an inquiry.
Healthcare professionals in a COVID-19 hospital ward
Healthcare professionals in a COVID-19 hospital ward
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A 31-year-old man in Bengaluru who had tested positive for coronavirus died early Saturday morning, reportedly after he went from one hospital to another in search of an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed. The man’s family had approached two private hospitals in the city, but he could not be admitted there as the hospitals cited a lack of ICU beds. According to a report in The Hindu, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has issued a notice to both hospitals and warned of action under the National Disaster Management Act if the hospitals do not respond within 24 hours.

According to a report in Deccan Herald, the man was receiving non-COVID-19 treatment at a hospital in Madiwala, and when he tested positive for coronavirus on the evening of Friday, April 9, he was asked to leave. From there, he was taken to Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital in Vasanth Nagar, but due to lack of beds there he was redirected to the hospital’s Girinagar branch. With the help of an NGO, his family booked a bed in the ICU through the 108 ambulance helpline. However, at the Girinagar branch too, the hospital said there were no ICU beds available.

According to the report in The Hindu, the patient’s condition worsened after going from hospital to hospital without being given treatment, and his oxygen saturation level plummeted to single digits. In the emergency room of the Girinagar hospital, the man was given some oxygen. The family finally found a hospital in Koramangala which had ICU beds available, and the man was taken there at 12.40 am on Saturday. He was admitted there, but by 4 am he passed away.

The Hindu report further stated that Nishant Hiremath, the nodal officer for COVID-19 at Mahaveer Jain Hospital, said that they had not been informed by the BBMP that a critical patient was coming. He told the newspaper that three ICU beds set aside by them for COVID-19 patients in the hospital were all occupied.

According to the BBMP’s COVID-19 dashboard that shows the real-time availability of beds, as of Sunday morning there are no ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients at both branches of Mahaveer Jain Hospital. Both branches of the hospital have now been issued a showcause notice by the BBMP.

According to government guidelines, private hospitals have been asked to set aside 50% of their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients. Karnataka is currently witnessing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year during the first wave too, Bengaluru had seen multiple incidents like this one from June to August 2020, when many people died due to unavailability of beds, lack of oxygen and other medical infrastructure.

Karnataka on Saturday saw 6,955 fresh COVID-19 cases — a small dip in the number of new COVID-19 cases compared to the previous day's 7,955, according to the Health Department. The number of deaths dropped by 10 cases. It was 36 on Saturday as against 46 on Friday. So far, the total number of cases are 10,55,040 and 12,849 deaths, the department said.

Bengaluru alone contributed more than 50% of the day's cases and mortalities with 4,384 fresh infections and 19 deaths on Saturday. The city has so far reported 4,74,398 infections and 4,788 deaths. The current number of active cases is 44,863.

(With PTI inputs)

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