Snakebite victim made to run around for 6 hrs at Mumbai's KEM hospital

It took almost six hours for Rajendra Rawat to get necessary medical treatment after a baby Russell’s viper bit him on Saturday, during a rescue mission; thankfully, it was a dry bite

Availing timely treatment for snakebite would have ended in fatality for a 21-year-old rescuer had the reptile injected venom into Rajendra Rawat during his attempt to secure it. Thankfully, the venomous snake only delivered a dry bite to Rawat’s right thumb. But the real ordeal began after the incident.

Despite taking necessary precaution, Rajendra Rawat was bitten on the right thumb by the Russell’s viper, he had gone to rescue
Despite taking necessary precaution, Rajendra Rawat was bitten on the right thumb by the Russell’s viper, he had gone to rescue

A resident of Aarey Milk Colony, Rawat received a call to rescue a snake at Unit No 12, near Nurses Quarters, on Saturday. He rushed to the spot with two of his associates and discovered that the snake they were called to rescue was the highly venomous Russell’s viper.

Rawat at the KEM Hospital
Rawat at the KEM Hospital

“We take extra precaution while handling young venomous snakes because they are hyperactive and their bites are more potent than the older ones. Since young snakes don’t realise the quantity of venom to be released during a bite, a victim either succumbs to it or sustains permanent damage to the bitten area,” said Kaushal Dubey, a snake rescuer and Rawat’s colleague.

Unfortunately, despite taking necessary precaution, the snake bit Rawat on the right thumb. His associates immediately bagged the serpent and rushed Rawat to the Hindu Hruday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Care Municipal Hospital in Jogeshwari.

Ordeal commences
While the incident took place around 2.15 pm, the trio reached the hospital by 3 pm. Doctors at the hospital informed them that the medical facility lacked adequate vials of antivenin. “Being snake rescuers, we know that a victim needs at least eight vials of antivenin to counter a Russell’s viper’s venom.

The hospital just had two. We were asked to visit the KEM Hospital for further treatment. Panicking increases the heart rate, which assists venom to spread faster than usual. Despite knowing that we were running out of time, I remained calm,” said Rawat. Upon reaching the KEM Hospital at 5 pm, Rawat and his associates were forced to follow the lengthy admission procedure that took nearly six hours.

“Since it was a case of accident, we had to inform the Medico Legal Case (MLC) to the police constables deployed at the hospital. Even getting the case paper ready was a task. There was a long queue. Despite telling the doctors that I was bitten by a venomous snake, we didn’t get a definite answer or guidance,” Rawat added. Finally, around 11 pm, he was admitted to the medicine ward and the doctors performed a blood test.

Doc speak
“His pulse and blood reports were normal. But we kept him under observation because effects of venom can show after several hours or even days after the bite. However, the patient said he was feeling better and took discharge,” said a doctor.

When contacted, KEM dean Avinash Supe said, “Generally, snakebite victims should receive prompt treatment and the formalities can be completed later. However, I am not aware of this particular case. To prevent such incidents in the future, I’ll update the department concerned and instruct its officials about the same.”

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