"If he's bleeding, just wipe the blood off.": Bribe taking and hospital apathy costs 18 year old's death

My son died because I did not have Rs 300 to bribe A fathers tale of grief
news Bribe Demands Monday, June 13, 2016 - 17:02

For staff at the Madurai Government hospital, it was simply about making a quick buck. But for Ganapathy Prasad, it was a matter of life and death. 

He was taken for a ride from ward to ward, in the hope that he could save his son despite the hospital’s complete apathy. On May 2nd, Ganapathy’s son Rajendra complained of pain and bit his tongue in a freak seizure. His family began deliberating if they could afford to take him to the hospital and settled for the Madurai GH out of desperation. 

His son was packed into a rickety 108 ambulance and taken to the Out Patient ward. “There were several students, which made me worry that the same thing of 5 years ago was going to happen again. One doctor gave him an oxygen mask for two minutes and pulled it out.”  

His ordeal began when the ward boy was called. “To push the stretcher into ward No.5, he asked me for money. He asked me for 300 rupees. Where will I go for such money? I refused. I told him I would complain to the police.” All this, as the man watched his son convulse and spit out more blood. 

Finally, the ward boy wheeled in the stretcher into the ward.

After Ganapathy filled in his details, he was made to wait at a canteen for his ECG, OP and ward sheets while his wife waited with her son. After the ECG, he had to lay his son onto the bed from the stretcher. “I called out for help as he couldn’t carry him, but no one came forward. So I pulled him up myself and dropped him onto the bed with an unintentionally hard force.” His son yelped as he bit his tongue again. 

“I yelled to the doctor, and you know what he said? He’s just bleeding, wipe the blood off.” 

Shaken, Ganapathy gave the OP sheet to his wife and explained the situation to the doctor. But the ward boy had taken the OP sheet. “The doctor told me he wouldn’t treat my son because I didn’t have the OP sheet.” 

Making his way to the police booth in the hospital, he explained the demand for bribe and the disappearance of the OP sheet. The police caught the boy red handed and asked for the sheets back. “I waited and waited. He never came.” 

When he went back to the ward, Ganapathy was shocked to see that his son wasn’t breathing. “While the police told me to go from one ward to another and from canteen to desk, my son was dying.” The doctor took one look and asked for a blood test.  As he was making his way back from sending his son’s blood sample, he saw his wife crouched on to the floor. His son bit his tongue again, wildly convulsed and died.

It didn't end there. Even at the mortuary, a free service at the GH - he was asked 500 rupees by a nurse. "I do not want to bribe anyone or pay anyone to treat my son. I can't afford to either. I will never regret not giving a bribe. But I was just driven to this extent." Breaking down, he gave away all that was there in his pocket - 200 rupees. 

Ganapathy, is no stranger to apathy. “It doesn’t surprise me, because 5 years ago, my completely healthy son had a bout of pneumonia. There were no doctors around – simply 4th year and 5th year students who had hardly an idea what to do when a patient comes in. My son was given an injection and sent off. Since then, his muscles have weakened and his body has not been the same it was since that day. We were given no medicines, no prescription.” 

It has been a month and a half since, and Ganapathy has petitioned the Chief Minister and filed an FIR alleging medical negligence. 

“All I want to say is, my son was a wonderful and quiet boy, and our biggest joy was when he got a job as a data entry operator. We are a simple family. For us, that meant a lot. But just because we are simple, it does not mean we can be taken for a ride. No family deserves this.” 

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