In an incident eerily resembling the Tamil film Ramanaa, relatives of a dead man have accused a private hospital in Thanjavur of keeping him in the hospital three days after he had died under the pretext of treating him.
The man who died, Sekar (55), was admitted to KG Hospital in Thanjavur on September 11 for an infection. Talking to TNM, Bharathi, Sekar’s relative said that KG hospital admitted Sekar to the ICU and he was there for 17 days. Sekar had undergone surgery at a private hospital in Nagapattinam two days before that and was referred to KG hospital after he showed complications.
After he was admitted to the hospital, he was treated for multiple ailments over the 17 days. He underwent several blood transfusions and one major procedure during this time.
On September 28, the 17th day, when the hospital demanded around Rs 2,50,000 for another surgery, his relatives allegedly refused to pay the money and asked the hospital authorities to prepare Sekar to be discharged so that they can take him to the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital.
“After we came here, they performed a major surgery and asked us to pay Rs 5.25 lakh towards the bill. We paid that. After all these days, even when there was no movement or improvement from Sekar, they asked us to pay Rs 3 lakh more to perform another surgery which they are sure will cure him,” he added.
He also said that these suspicious statements by the hospital authorities and the lack of money with the family forced them to ask the hospital to discharge Sekar and take him to a government hospital.
The hospital authorities then managed to convince the relatives to pay a portion of the money. The hospital received Rs 50,000 and a written assurance for the remaining amount. Then, the hospital prepared Sekar’s release form, referring him to the medical college hospital.
“When he was being discharged, the nurses put some white powder on his body and we noticed that his body was swelling up. His eyes also were bulging. The attendants then put gloves in his hands and feet and closed his eyes despite the bulging. When we asked what was going on, they did not reply,” he said.
When Sekar’s family took him to Thanjavur Medical College hospital, doctors examined Sekar and told the family that he had died two days ago.
Sekar’s family members have alleged that KG Hospital had continued to administer treatment to him three days after he had died and had charged them a huge amount for it.
The family then went to Thanjavur South police station to file a complaint against KG hospital, accusing hospital authorities of treating a dead man with an intention to extort money. An FIR was registered on September 29.
“The family claims that the doctors in Thanjavur Medical College hospital told them that Sekar had died two days ago. But when I went to the hospital to get their statement, the doctors told me that they had informed the family that Sekar had died two to three hours ago and not days. The doctors also said that it was possible that Sekar had died en route KG hospital to Medical College hospital,” a police inspector told TNM.
He also added that since an FIR has been registered, Sekar’s body has been handed over for autopsy and that the report is expected soon. The FIR has been registered under section 174(3) (iv) (Doubt regarding the cause of death) of CrPC.
In light of the allegations, KG Hospital issued a statement on Monday accusing the family of staging the entire event in an attempt to escape paying the dues.
“On September 28, at around 1.25 pm, we had shown the patient’s relatives when the patient regained consciousness and wagged his tongue. We also showed them that his vitals were stable (with help of medicines),” read the statement.
Adding that Sekar had undergone 16 blood purifications, transfusion of 30 units of blood and blood products and was on ventilator support for 16 days, the hospital stated that the relatives had, in fact, asked frequent updates on Sekar’s vitals to the paramedic in the ambulance while Sekar was being taken to Thanjavur medical college hospital.
Speaking to TNM, the administrative officer of KG Hospital, Vinod Kumar, said that a legal step will be decided only after the post-mortem report is received.
Multiple attempts by TNM to contact the officers-in-charge at the Thanjavur Medical College hospital were unsuccessful.