The Kerala government has revoked the suspension of Dr Aruna and two nurses, after days of sustained protests by the state’s medicos who believed she was unfairly targeted. Dr Aruna is a nodal officer at one of the COVID-19 wards in the Thiruvananthapuram medical college hospital. Last week, she and two head nurses in her ward, were suspended after the family of a COVID-19 patient complained that he had maggots on his neck due to lack of medical care in the hospital.
The patient, Anilkumar, was tested positive for coronavirus and had been shifted to Dr Aruna’s COVID ward on September 6. Following the complaint, the nodal officer Dr Aruna and two head nurses, Leena Thanjan and Rajani K V, were suspended by the government.
As per an independent inquiry by the Director of Medical Education, the patient Anilkumar’s collar support had not been removed throughout his stay, until he was discharged from the hospital on September 27. Anil Kumar had fallen from a height and had sustained injuries to his spine. He was admitted to the Orthopaedics department where he underwent a surgery. Further, after testing positive for coronavirus on September 6, he was shifted to the COVID-19 ward where Dr Aruna was the nodal officer.
The issue came to light after Anilkumar’s family filed a complaint about the incident.
“The nursing staff and supervisory head nurse or doctors taking rounds of the ward, should have raised the issue with respect to the collar removal with the concerned doctors of Orthopaedics Department or if the doctors from Orthopaedics Department had taken due care,” the order read.
The order also states that the argument that collar support was not removed because of the cervical spine getting injured was a possibility. “But not removing the collar support for a month long period was inappropriate,” the order read.
The order also states that as the patient was in the Orthopaedics Department, the Ortho Unit should have continued their oversight to provide care to the patient by inspecting the area (under the collar) with due care. As a result, disciplinary action shall be taken against Dr Sunil Kumar KS, chief of the Ortho unit where Anilkumar got his surgery done, the order says.
The report also observed that there was negligence on the part of head nurses, supervisory staff and nodal officer who could have spotted and flagged the issue, and advised the team of doctors, nurses etc. to take more care in the future.