So many deaths, no proper explanation
Deaths of 32 patients, including 10 babies, in less than 24 hours have brought to the fore allegations of negligence in treating patients at the MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital in Sylhet.
Parents and relatives of the babies alleged none of the duty doctors was present in the paediatric ward when seven babies died between Monday midnight and 8:00am yesterday.
The hospital authorities admitted that such a big number of deaths between Monday afternoon and yesterday morning was abnormal as 14 to 15 patients usually die at the hospital every day.
Abdul Kalam Mia, auto-rickshaw driver from Shekherghat, said no doctor was available at the ward when his newborn baby died around 7:30 am yesterday.
“It happened only because of their negligence,” he said.
His wife Nilufa Akhtar, who gave birth to the baby girl on Sunday, was frantically looking for a doctor as their newborn's condition worsened around 7:00am yesterday.
As she repeatedly requested the ward boy to call a doctor, he rebuked Nilufa, asking her to wait till 8:00am.
Many others also complained of misbehaviour by nurses and ward boys at the hospital.
Asked about the allegations of negligence, Brig Gen Abdus Sabur Mia, director of the hospital, told reporters that they formed a three-member committee headed by Prof Ismail Hossain Patwary to probe the matter.
Talking to reporters at the Secretariat, State Minister for Health Zahid Malik said, “The patients died as they couldn't reach the hospital in time due to hartal and blockade.”
The number of deaths was higher probably because the patients failed to make it to the hospital at the right time. There was nothing unusual about it, he added.
Abdus Salam, deputy director of the hospital, said the deaths of so many people were abnormal, not the causes of their deaths.
“The death figure is higher than average … Normally, 10 to 14 people, including 3 to 4 babies, die at the hospital every day. But the figure of 32 is abnormal,” he said.
Five of the babies died of pneumonia, three of neonatal complications and two of serious contagious diseases, he said.
Referring to the deaths of five babies in incubators, a physician in the unit said there was no problem in the incubators.
Of the 22 adults, five died of stroke, five of heart diseases and eight from liver disease, cancer, severe anaemia, encephalitis, diabetes-related disease and poisoning, according to hospital records.
Besides, three died of injuries they suffered in a clash and road accidents while one was brought dead to the hospital.
A total of 162 children were under treatment in the paediatric unit-3 as of yesterday. Many of them were found lying on the floor as the unit has only 56 beds.
Officials there said the tertiary hospital always remains overburdened with patients. A total of 1,781 patients were under treatment at the 500-bed hospital till yesterday.
Now, 155 doctors and 173 nursing staffs work at the hospital against the approved posts of 208 and 308, according to the hospital website.
In January, 433 patients, including 62 babies, died at the hospital, said the hospital authorities.
Asked about the number of deaths a day at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, its officials said usually 15 to 35 patients die every day while around 2,500 to 3,000 patients (except those in the burn unit) get admitted to the hospital.