Services at Dhaka Medical College Hospital remained suspended for hours yesterday following a clash between attendants of a patient and interns over the use of an elevator.
Because of this, patients at the hospital were deprived of care. Those arriving from far away places with severe illness and injuries could not get services even at the emergency or casualty departments from 11:30am to 4:25pm.
The trouble began around 11:00am when some interns asked three attendants of a patient to get out of the elevator -- meant for use by doctors -- at the extended building of the hospital.
But Khandker Nuruzzaman Limon, son of the patient, Selina Begum, and his acquaintances Shuvo and Samrat, both Dhaka University students, reacted and asked the interns about their identities, leading to a scuffle, said doctors.
Only to make things worse, some 70 to 80 DU students went to the hospital and vandalised the emergency department, said Mozammel Haque, in charge of DMCH police camp.
When journalists went to cover the incident after the vandalism, interns drove them out, leaving ATN News cameraman Ataur Rahman Himel injured and part of his camera broken.
Immediately, the authorities locked all the entrances to the hospital.
Khandker Shahiduzzaman Meraz, another son of the patient and general secretary of DU Shahidullah Hall Chhatra League, said it was the intern doctors who had assaulted Limon, Shuvo and Samrat.
He admitted his fellow students vandalised the emergency department as there was a rumour that interns had assaulted him, Shuvo and Samrat, and confined him.
“The doctors assaulted Shuvo and Samrat, not me,” Meraz said. But when he went to meet the hospital authorities to resolve the issue, intern doctors tried to confine him, he claimed.
Dr Iqbal Arslan, secretary general of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), told reporters at the hospital that suspension of the DMCH emergency service is unprecedented. “I feel sorry for the patients who had to suffer,” he said.
Anupam Begum, a patient of cardiac disease and dental problems, was referred by Dhaka Dental College in Mirpur to the DMCH. As her sons rushed her to the DMCH around 3:30pm, they found all the entry points shut.
“I was angry because my mother was in an unconscious state. I broke the lock to get the ambulance in. But Ansar members beat me up, and doctors refused treatment,” her son Apu, a driver and resident of Old Dhaka, told The Daily Star.
He then rushed her mother to Mitford Hospital where doctors again referred her to the DMCH.
“I again went to Dhaka Medical Hospital around 6:00pm, but a doctor at the emergency department said there was no doctor at the wards because of clashes and asked me to come tomorrow [Wednesday],” Apu said.
There were dozens of other patients who suffered like Anupam Begum.
Meanwhile, the DMCH and DU authorities, BMA leaders and police held a meeting after the incident.
“We have decided to probe the incident and punish those involved in the attacks on the hospital,” DMCH Director Brig Gen Mustafizur Rahman told reporters before opening the gate at 4:25pm.
Asked about action against the interns who had attacked the journalists, he said it was not discussed in the meeting.
DU acting proctor Prof Amzad Ali said the university authorities had formed a four-member probe committee to look into the involvement of the university students in the incident.