Some private hospitals reluctant to treat general patients

Besides a section of government doctors, some of their counterparts in the private hospitals
Some private hospitals reluctant to treat general patients

l It's a violation of the right to live, say city residents



GUWAHATI: Besides a section of government doctors, some of their counterparts in the private hospitals are allegedly showing reluctance to effectively provide treatment to other critical patients over the doctors' fear of contracting COVID-19.

This has come to light after the Assam Government signed MoUs with the private hospitals to take the load of non-COVID patients to lessen the burden on the government hospitals.

"Doctors and nurses at some private hospitals are now hesitating to provide critical services such as dialysis, blood transfusion, cardiac treatment, treatment to patients suffering from other life-threatening diseases even to their regular patients on account of the fear of contracting COVID-19," a source said, adding that the majority of private hospitals first demand test reports from patients that the latter have been proved COVID-19 negative. In case the patients do not have such test reports, the private hospitals ask them to have the COVID test conducted first.

Siddhartha Sarma (name changed), a resident of Chandmari in the city, said that his 70-year-old father recently fell in the bathroom and fractured his leg. "I immediately took my father to a leading private hospital. My father had to wait for more than 12 hours to get the initial treatment as the doctors and nurses were demanding his COVID-negative test report. Finally when we contacted an orthopedic known to us, the hospital started my father's treatment," he said.

Sarma's father is not alone. Many serious and critical non-COVID patients are literally begging before a section of private hospitals to get treatment. Some of them are being sent back, many have to undergo COVID-test first to receive treatment.

Expressing serious concern over this state of affairs, a retired doctor from Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH) said that he has been counselling quite a high number of patients with cardiac, neuro, gastro, diabetic and orthopedic emergencies during the last three months. He added that many of these patients have developed severe complications due to delayed medical intervention.

"If such non-COVID patients are not given treatment on time, the number of deaths of such patients will rise in the days to come. It is unfortunate that over 70 non-COVID patients died at GMCH due to the alleged negligence of doctors," the doctor said.

The public relations officer of a leading city-based private hospital told The Sentinel that it is true that doctors and nurses take some time before treating patients who have COVID-19 symptoms. "As per the treatment protocols, we have to send these patients to government hospitals for conducting the COVID test. But in case of emergency and critical patients, we first give the initial treatment and conduct the COVID test later," the officer said.

The majority of city residents have, however, demanded that Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma should issue an official order directing the private hospitals not to deny treatment to non-COVID-19 patients. They further said that erring private hospitals must face punitive measures, including cancellation of their licenses.

"Some private hospitals are violating the fundamental right to live of people and access to quality healthcare," Biswadeep Bora, a resident of Ulubari, alleged. 

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