Hyderabad: The family of a COVID-19 victim has alleged that KIMS Hospital withheld the COVID-19 test results of a patient who had earlier tested negative for the virus and continued the treatment which ultimately cost them over Rs. 9 lakh. The hospital, meanwhile, has rubabished the allegations and said it had sent the reports to the victim’s family.

On 8 July, G. Hussaini from Kurnool district was admitted to KIMS hospital in Secunderabad. He was a COVID-19 suspect. The hospital tested him the same day and later sent the reports to his son’s mobile phone. Hussaini had tested negative. However, the man’s son, Naveen Kumar, alleged that the hospital conducted a second test and did not provide the reports for the same.

Hussaini died on 21 July. The hospital bill amounted to Rs. 9.14 lakh, of which Rs. 61,500 was for PPE kits for 12 days.

“The result of the first COVID test came back negative on 10 July. However, the hospital staff said my father had tested positive and took a second sample on the same day. They did not provide any report of the second test,” Naveen said.

He further said, “They said I had not received the text message about the second reports due to some technical glitch. But they did not provide the reports even after I repeatedly asked for them and they continued the COVID-19 treatment.”

Meanwhile, the hospital said the reports of the second test had come back positive and it had informed the patient’s family of the same and also uploaded the information on the ICMR portal. The ICMR had sent a text to the family informing them of the result but they may have not received it due to some technical reasons. “We also have given the test report to the family at the time of the patient’s discharge. It may be a misunderstanding. We share the details of every test result with the government and it’s documented with the ICMR,” a hospital staff told NewsMeter.

The family also suspects that the hospital may not have given the injection, which cost lakhs, that they had purchased for Hussaini. “The hospital said that my father is COVID positive and needs an injection which is not available in the hospital pharmacy. The Tocilizumab injection costs lakhs in the black market. But even after we bought the injection, my father’s condition did not improve. We are not sure if he got the injection,” said Naveen.

Hussaini regularly called his family members complaining about breathing problems. His son claimed that his father’s condition was not monitored. He alleged that though his father showed no signs of recovery, the hospital continued to assure them that he was getting better. Why didn’t the hospital put him on a ventilator from the beginning? Naveen asked.

Regarding the allegations about the injection, the hospital staff said, “We maintain a detailed log of every patient and if the family has any doubts, they can check the details. We don’t directly put a patient on a ventilator as soon as s/he is admitted to the hospital. We give the patient a high concentration of oxygen if s/he is not improving, we then put them on non-invasive ventilation. We put the patient on ventilation only if his/her condition worsens.”

The hospital staff further said that the chances of recovery are very less for patients put on a ventilator. “The guidelines state that we can put a patient on a ventilator only if the patient does not respond to treatment. We have explained all this to the patient’s family. We tried our best to avoid putting the patient on a ventilator because once we do that, they don’t do well.”

Regarding the PPE kits, the hospital said that the patient was in the hospital for 13 days and PPE kits have to be provided to health workers, patients, doctors, nursing staff, biomedical staff, housekeeping staff, dieticians, and other hospital staff. “We have to provide PPEs to every worker who works in three different shifts for 24 hours. In fact, we are charging a nominal fee for the kits,” said the hospital.

On 3 August, the state had revoked the licenses of two private hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients following complaints that they were overcharging patients.

Apart from losing a member of the family, the family has also faced discrimination in society. Naveen said that no one in his village speaks to the family even though they have tested negative for COVID-19. “A few people went to my uncle’s shop and spread bleaching powder to intimidate him. On one hand, I have lost my father, and on the other, I face economic loss and discrimination. At least if the hospital had provided the reports of the second COVID test we would have coped differently,” said Naveen.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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