Kerala COVID-19 victim’s family alleges lapses, says hospital didn't give adequate care

The family has also revealed that they had to pay Rs 85,000 to buy medicines for the patient while he was under treatment at the Kottayam Medical College.
PT Joshy
PT Joshy

PT Joshy, the 68-year-old Thiruvalla native who died after testing positive for coronavirus did not receive adequate treatment, his relatives have alleged following his death.

The patient, who is from Idinjillam in Pathanamthitta, is the ninth COVID-19 casualty in the state and died at the Kottayam Medical College hospital on Friday. It was on May 11 that Joshy came back to Kerala after one month’s stay with his family at Sharjah in UAE. While being in the institutional quarantine centre, Joshy developed symptoms and was tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on May 18.

The patient’s family has alleged that there were lapses in the treatment by the doctors in the Pathanamthitta district hospital, where Joshy was first treated.

“On May 18 when the result came out, officials shifted him from the quarantine centre to Pathanamthitta district hospital,” Bibi Liju, Joshy’s daughter-in-law, tells TNM. “Pappa had a severe cough when he was admitted to the hospital. Since I am a nurse, many people, including doctors I know, were asking me to check whether his X-ray was taken, to find out whether he had developed pneumonia. But it was only on May 19 evening that they took an X-Ray, and on the next day (May 20), doctors called me and said that he had developed pneumonia.”

Bibi says that Joshy’s condition turned worse in the next five days that he was at Pathanamthitta district hospital.

“Though he had pneumonia, he was just given tablets. They did not even start IV (intravenous) injection and we think this is the reason why the pneumonia became severe,” she says.

But on May 24, by around 7.30 pm, doctors called Bibi and said that Joshy’s oxygen level was going down and that they were going to shift him to Kottayam Medical College (KMC). However, Bibi alleges that even after hours, he was not shifted and then by 10 pm, hospital officials told Bibi that they were not going to shift him to KMC.

“They said there is no need to take the risk to transport him at night and that they will give him oxygen support for the night. They told that experts from KMC will give directions over the phone,” adds Bibi, stating that this was a lapse on the part of Pathanamthitta district hospital.

But by this time, Bibi says, Joshy’s condition had turned worse. “His speech had turned slurry and doctors were saying that he was showing no interest in eating food. Emotionally, he had turned desperate,” Bibi said.

Since the family felt that Joshy needed expert treatment, they urged the hospital officials to transport him to KMC. “We were not satisfied with his condition. We contacted the District Collector and many others, and it was only because of our pressure, that he was shifted to KMC the next day (May 25) evening,” she says.

But on May 29, Joshy succumbed to the illness. “We only have these complaints about Pathanamthitta district hospital. We have not raised any complaints towards Kottayam Medical College staff. Till the last minute, they tried their level best,” Bibi added.

The family has also raised concern about officials stating to the media that Joshy had comorbidities. Health officials including KK Shailaja, the state health minister, had stated on record that Joshy had comorbidities including diabetes.

According to the family, though he was found to be highly diabetic while he was admitted to the hospital, they say that he did not have a history of diabetes.

“Even last month, he had done the routine test, and his sugar level was normal. What hurts us are the media reports and other officials saying that he was a severely diabetic patient and that it was one of the reasons for his condition worsening. We just want to make clear that it was not the case, he was a completely healthy person,” she said. Two doctors TNM spoke to however says that the family and the patient may not have been aware about his Glycated hemoglobin levels.

The family has written complaints to the Kerala Chief Minister, the Health Minister and the District Collector.

“We bore treatment expense of Rs 85,000”

The family has also said that they had spent about Rs 85,000 for Joshy’s treatment at Kottayam Medical College Hospital. This statement by the family of a COVID-19 patient comes at a time when the state government has claimed that all patients infected by SARS-CoV-2 will be given free treatment.

The family says they had to supply certain medical equipment like injection, diabetes test strips, syringes for feeding, catheter and even plaster. The family also stated that a new drug was experimentally used on Joshy by the hospital — with their permission — when his condition was very severe.

The family states that for this drug too, which was sourced from a pharmaceutical distributor in Kochi, they bore a cost of Rs 30,000. Including all the expenses of other medicines and equipment, the family had to spend about Rs 85,000 for the five days Joshy was hospitalised at KMC.

Meanwhile, the doctors of the hospital said that the family had demanded that Joshy be given the medicine. Despite explaining to the relatives that the chances of the medicines being effective were only 8 per cent, doctors say that the family decided to go ahead with it.

The family also agreed to this, while talking to TNM.

“We were ready to spend how much ever to save our father, we don’t have a complaint in that. But we revealed it to clarify as the state government had claimed that treatment for COVID-19 patients is free. Even if they give back the money again, we do not want that. That is not our issue,” said Bibi.

The family members, who are agonised over the death of Joshy, also said that they are not going to take up the matter further.

(With inputs from Neethu Joseph)



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