Hospitals turning away patients | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:20 AM, May 23, 2020

Editorial

Hospitals turning away patients

Countless lives at risk

It is a matter of grave concern that the ongoing pandemic has left hospitals overwhelmed, and in many cases patients are being denied vital medical attention, sometimes resulting in deaths. There has been an alarming number of such instances over the past few weeks. A recent report published in this daily sheds light on the sufferings caused as a result of private hospitals not taking in routine or serious patients with various ailments, especially if they appear to have symptoms associated with Covid-19. In such cases, a patient is required to do the necessary test to prove that they are Covid-19 negative before being able to get any treatment in the hospitals. Otherwise, the only remaining option is to risk going to the already-overcrowded public hospitals, which can treat only 30 percent of the country's population seeking healthcare services, a notoriously time-consuming process and not feasible for most emergency cases.

According to the report, a man suffering from a degenerative disease was another victim of this cruel practice of hospitals turning away patients. At least three private hospitals refused to treat him as he had a high temperature (he was yet to get his test results from IEDCR). The fourth hospital initially agreed, and upon observation, reported that the patient had a heart attack. But being a coronavirus-free hospital, it denied admittance as he had fever and breathing difficulties. Despite the family's request to provide him with emergency care while looking for an alternative, he was turned down. After an agonising 10-hour effort by his family to provide him with CCU support, the patient succumbed to his death. The next day, they received a text message from IEDCR confirming that he was COVID-19 negative.

Despite the health ministry's recent circular stating that all private hospitals and clinics should have separate arrangements for treating suspected Covid-19 patients—and that they cannot refuse any patient if they have the particular treatment facilities, and that failure to comply with the order will result in legal action—numerous patients continue to be treated with such callousness. Healthcare is a fundamental right. Such blatant refusal by hospitals and clinics to comply with the directive violates all ethical codes that healthcare professionals and hospitals must abide by. The government, therefore, must deal with this issue urgently and ensure uninterrupted delivery of healthcare services to ordinary patients. Hospitals and clinics providing regular critical services such as kidney dialysis must accept patients requiring such medical procedures. They must not be allowed to refuse critical patients.

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