Mumbai: Global Hospital may lose licence for turning away poor patients
BMC puts Global Hospital's licence on hold for failing to treat poor. In recent case, a 26-year-old who was sent to KEM died
A maternal mortality review meeting has revealed that the licence of Parel's luxury super-specialty hospital Gleneagles Global has been on hold following allegations that it has not been treating its quota of poor patients. Sources told mid-day that officials who were part of F-South ward's review meeting on Tuesday were shocked to hear a representative brazenly admit that the hospital had no free beds for poor patients.
The civic committee was inquiring into the death of a Dhule resident, Rekha Marathe, 26, who died on April 20 at KEM Hospital, where she was sent from Global. Sources said the patient was admitted to Global just a day before, but was allegedly not treated due to lack of funds. On further enquiry, the public health department told the committee that it had already put the hospital's licence on hold, and has issued a notice a fortnight ago after similar complaints.
Confirming that the hospital's licence is on hold, Sunil Dhamne, deputy municipal commissioner (public health), told mid-day, "We are awaiting the hospital's response. Only after we get their undertaking to abide by norms we will renew the licence, subject to approval from the civic legal department. If they don't respond, we will initiate prosecution under the Maharashtra (Mumbai) Nursing Home Registration Act." Dr Padmaja Keskar, Executive Health Officer, BMC, too confirmed: "We have put the nursing home registration of Global Hospital on hold and a notice seeking a written reply has been sent."
Global Hospital, Parel. Pic/Ashish Raje
Not the first case
While a committee member told mid-day that the hospital has been admitting new patients and surgeries are being performed, Dr Keskar said it was illegal to do so without the mandatory licence. Public health department officials said that a few months ago, a meeting was called with the Global Hospital's representatives following a similar complaint from the civic leader of the Opposition, Ravi Raja.
"A poor patient was referred for heart treatment but the hospital started charging them," said Raja. "When questioned, they just gave a discount, which is in violation of their agreement to provide free beds to poor patients. I asked the health department to inquire and submit their action-taken report accordingly. We asked them for a written response, but haven't received any till date," said Dr Dhamne.
Following Rekha Marathe's death at KEM due to 'shocks following septicaemia and severe anaemia in a post-operative case of obstetric hysterectomy', the issue was referred to Bhoiwada police, who registered a case of accidental death. Her husband Govind Marathe, 32, a daily wager from Mukte village, 18 km from Dhule, earns R100 a day. Due to drought-like condition, the family is finding it difficult to make ends meet, after paying R40 for 20 litres of potable water every day. The Marathes have two daughters Vaishanavi, 8, and Megna, 5, and Rekha was due to deliver their third baby in May. She was being treated at Saroj Maternity Hospital in Dhule.
"My wife developed severe pain on April 18, and was taken to a primary health centre, where she was administered IV drip and sent home," said Marathe. "A little later, she started bleeding profusely. She was taken again to the primary health centre, where doctors advised to take her to Saroj Hospital." Rekha underwent an emergency Caesarean procedure. The infant was born dead. With the bleeding not stopping, doctors told the family she needed a transfusion.
"I got six packets of blood but by late night, her condition was getting worse," said Marathe. "All she asked was how our child was. I lied that he was fine. We were asked to shift Rekha to Seva super-specialty Hospital in Dhule. But there was no improvement till April 19. Doctors told us to shift her to Global Hospital in Mumbai."
When they reached Global around 9 pm on April 19, Marathe alleged that the hospital asked him to make a deposit. Marathe said he pleaded that he could not raise the money, after which he was told to shift Rekha to KEM. "The hospital was charging in thousands for the ambulance, so my brother bought an ambulance from outside KEM for R700. At KEM, the doctors said she was in critical condition. She passed away at 1.45 am while being treated."
The spokesperson for Gleneagles Global Hospital refused to comment on the BMC notice. About Marathe, they said, "The 29-year-old female was taken to two hospitals around Parel and denied admission before being brought to Global Hospital on April 19 at around 9 pm. All measures were undertaken to stabilise her. Her relatives were constantly speaking to the extended family, who arranged a bed for her elsewhere. The family pressurised our doctors into giving an urgent discharge. All standard guidelines were followed in her case and her condition was stable till the time of her exit around 11 pm." Marathe denied that they ever went to another hospital in Mumbai and said the Dhule ambulance dropped them directly at Global Hospital. "My wife was alive when we took her to Global, and there was no reason for pressuring the doctors, we were pleading them to treat her, but they insisted that we deposit the money first," he said.
What it means for others
Dr Ketan Vagholkar, professor of surgery, DY Patil Medical College, said it is the hospital management's responsibility to keep their consultants informed about civic licenses. "It is illegal for consultants to treat non-OPD patients in a premise that is not legally certified," he said. "If something untoward happens to a patient in unlicenced premises, the consultant will be held solely responsible." He said insurance agencies are likely to reject claims if a hospital is temporarily deregistered. However, urologist Pradeep Rao, a consultant at Global, backed the hospital. "I am not aware of a notice issued by BMC. Even if they have, I have full faith in the people running the hospital and that they will not mislead us or do anything illegal," he said.
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