No emergency service for 3hrs
With severe head injuries, Mehedi Hasan was brought to Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday afternoon.
On the 30km way from Munshiganj, his condition worsened, as blood continued to ooze out through his wounds from falling off a running truck.
But to his utter shock, he was denied treatment, as doctors stopped working in protest of an attack on their colleagues by relatives of a patient who died at the hospital.
"Who will be responsible if something bad happens to my son?" Jahanara Begum, mother of Mehedi, told The Daily Star before leaving the hospital without treatment around 2:45pm.
They took him to the National Institute of Ophthalmology at the city's Agargaon.
Like Mehedi, over a hundred patients needing emergency treatment were turned away during the work abstention for about three hours by doctors and nurses at the emergency, which usually serves over 1,200 patients a day.
The chaos at the country's largest public tertiary hospital with 2,600 beds began soon after the death of Nawshad Ahemd, 52, around 12:45pm.
The grocer from the capital's Lalbagh was admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning with complaints of chest pain.
But claiming that he died due to wrong treatment, a group of people, including his family members, beat up several doctors, nurses and Ansar men and damaged the medicine trolley of a ward, said Sub-inspector Bachchu Mia, also in-charge at the hospital's police outpost.
"Four doctors and three Ansar men were injured in the attack. The right hand of Dr Shamimur Rahman was fractured after he was hit with a chair,” said DMCH Director Brig Gen AKM Nasiruddin.
The Daily Star has seen the X-ray of the doctor's hand, which clearly showed the fracture.
The hospital director also dismissed the allegation of wrong treatment, claiming that they did everything they could for the patient's recovery.
Angered by the attack, doctors and hospital staff locked the gate of the emergency complex and stopped working, police said.
Treatment at other wards and units, however, continued as usual.
Four people were detained over the attack.
Patients and their attendants from different parts of the country condemned the assault on the doctors, but said the way some doctors reacted was unexpected.
"Attacking doctors is a terrible thing to do, but what the doctors did in response was not acceptable as it is a matter of people's life and death," said a relative of a patient who was denied treatment.
Doctors returned to work at the emergency around 5:00pm following a meeting with the hospital authorities, police officials and Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) President Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin, who arrived at the hospital hearing the news.
At the meeting, the hospital authorities decided to file a case against the attackers and discussed steps to ensure safety of the doctors and other staff, said the hospital director.
Azmery Ahmed, widow of Nawshad, told The Daily Star that her husband was brought to the hospital around 11:00am on Saturday.
“He died around 12:45pm [yesterday] after a nurse administered an injection on him. Hearing the news, my son thought he died because of wrong treatment,” she said.
“He got angry and pushed the medicine trolley and a doctor.”
In a press release, the BMA condemned the attack and demanded exemplary punishment of the attackers.
Attacks on doctors over deaths and alleged wrong treatments are not uncommon in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, though yesterday's was one of the most violent.
Doctors and hospital staff have long been expressing concerns over their safety.
Contacted, Prof Abu Yousuf Fakir, president of DMC Teachers Association, said they often came under such attacks by outsiders.
“If the attackers are brought to book, no one will dare to attack doctors again,” he told The Daily Star.