Uttar Pradesh, June 20, 2019: A four-day-old infant died after being shuttled between two wings of a government hospital in western Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly for over three hours on Wednesday. The Uttar Pradesh government has suspended the presiding doctor of one hospital wing and initiated departmental action against the official in charge of the other.
The baby, named Urvashi by her parents, was born in a private hospital on June 15. She developed breathing difficulties on Wednesday morning, after which, her worried parents - both farmers - rushed her to the government hospital complex in Bareilly town.
However, the doctor on duty in the men’s wing there refused to examine the child and instead referred her to a medical institution dedicated to women in the same complex. The desperate parents did as instructed, but were told by officials at the women’s wing that they were short of beds. Take her back to the men’s wing, they were told.
"We were made to run around for over three hours, because they simply refused to admit her. Finally, we decided to take her back home, but she died on the hospital stairs," said Kusma Devi, the child’s grandmother.
Instructions directing the parents from one hospital to another in the campus have been recorded in the child’s medical slip.
An altercation between doctors of the two hospitals followed. Footage shot by local residents and journalists show Dr Kamlendra Swaroop Gupta, in-charge of the men’s wing, and Dr Alka Sharma, in-charge of the women’s wing, trading accusations after the newborn’s death. Both have refused to take responsibility for it.
"The baby was taken to the OPD (outpatient department) by the parents. From there, she was referred to the SNCU (specialised child care unit) at the women’s wing. But they sent the family away. If the baby had reached the emergency, we would have treated her. When the family finally reached the emergency, we started the procedure to admit her," the suspended doctor, Kamlendra Swaroop Gupta, said.
The women’s wing had eight children on four beds, Dr Alka Sharma said. "We told the family to go back to the men’s wing. The staff at the men’s wing just blindly refer everyone here. But all our equipment like warmers have been returned to the government. We have four warmers and we had eight kids on them already, If beds were empty, we would have admitted the child," she said.
"I have ordered suspension of CMS of Male Hospital Bareilly on the negligence of duty and have ordered for departmental proceedings against CMS of Women Hospital. Any insensitivity by Govt. officials will not be tolerated in #NewUP," Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted on Wednesday night.
"The action was taken after a critically sick child was brought to Male Hospital, where sufficient paediatricians were available, but instead of stabilising the child and giving due treatment, he turned family away to Women Hospital. CMS of Women Hospital referred child back," the Chief Minister said in another tweet.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, faces a severe shortage of government doctors and hospital beds. According to the centre, the average number of people served by each allopathic doctor in the state comes up to 19,962. This number is second only to Bihar, where the average number of people served per doctor is 28, 391. The national average comes up to 11,082 people per allopathic doctor, over ten times the 1:1,000 ratio recommended by the World Health Organisation.
However, as the statement from the Uttar Pradesh government shows, negligence - not staff shortage - cost Urvashi her life.