Hyderabad: Thirty-year-old Surya Pratap Bharati, a PhD student at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), allegedly lost his life after a false COVID-positive test report at Nallagandla’s Citizens Speciality Hospital.

Having tested positive for COVID, staff at the Citizens Hospital refused to treat him. Three days after the stroke, he was shifted Continental Hospital, where he succumbed to his ailments on 21 August.

Surya underwent an acute ischemic stroke in the campus premises on 17 August. The UoH health center doctors referred him to the Citizens Hospital and he was admitted there the same day. Members of the students’ union, who took Surya to the hospital, said he had mild cognitive abilities, that of speech, recognition, and motor functions. The doctor there recommended immediate cerebral surgery within 24 hours. At the hospital, he was tested for COVID-19 through the rapid antigen test method where he tested negative. However, the next day, the RTPCR method proved he was COVID-positive. Copies of both the test results were accessed and verified by NewsMeter.

Allegations of medical negligence

Surya’s sample tested positive in the RTPCR test and the result was given to his attendants on 19 August. The students’ union has alleged that by the time Surya’s final test results came, he had not received any treatment at Citizens Hospital. From 18 to 19 August he was admitted at the hospital’s isolation ward where attendants were not allowed to visit him. “One of his friends slipped into the isolation ward and saw that Surya was having fits while he lay unattended,” said Abhishek Nandan, the president of the UoH student union.

As his health deteriorated, he was put on a ventilator. “The hospital refused to treat him after he tested positive for COVID-19 and we were asked to shift him to the Continental Hospital,” Abhishek added.

Members of the students’ union, along with Surya’s friends, shifted him to Continental Hospital where they were informed by the doctors that he had slim chances of survival, and was not in a position to operate on. In the days he was on ventilator support at the second hospital, he was tested for COVID-19 twice. In both the RTPCR tests, however, he tested negative for the virus. He was also tested for C19 IgG ANTIBODY to verify the presence of the virus but his sample was non-reactive. This meant that he was not exposed to the novel coronavirus at any point in the last week.

Surya breathed his last on at 4.11 PM on Friday afternoon.

His parents and close associates allege that it was medical negligence at the Citizens Hospital that snatched away any chances of survival. “The time spent waiting for Surya’s test results at Citizens and then shifting him to Continental was critical for his survival,” Abhishek added.

Reports of all COVID-19 and antibody tests are with NewsMeter.

A complaint has been registered at the Chandanagar police station and Surya’s death is being investigated.

Members of the students’ union have also said that representatives of the varsity administration only came to visit Surya and his family once he was declared brain dead by doctors at the Continental Hospital. “Doctors of the health center did not assist us at the right time. Staff at the dean of students’ welfare and warden office only paid visits at the last moment,” Abhishek further added. Union members and Surya’s friends also arranged crowdfunding campaigns to pay for his treatment that cost close to five lakh rupees.

The investigating officer at the Chandanagar police station, sub-inspector Mohammad Pasha , said that they will question staff of the Citizens Hospital regarding the treatment provided to Surya in the three days he was there. “We went to visit the doctor and record his statement but he wasn’t available,” he said.

NewsMeter attempted to contact Citizens Hospital but they did not respond.

Priyali Dhingra

Priyali Dhingra is a post graduate in Communication Studies from Hyderabad Central University. She has previously worked as a photojournalist, editorial, and graphic design intern in The Indian Express, Newslaundry, and NDTV. Reigning from Delhi, she has an avid interest in photojournalism, and all things visual. She has also represented India as a delegate in the JENESYS 2019 Student Exchange Program with the Government of Japan. Having pursued her graduation in history from Delhi University, she was also a part of her college's theatre society. Her primary interests include: photography, poetry & politics.

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