Death of pregnant COVID-19 patient to be probed

The Bhopal district administration has launched an inquiry into the death of an eight-month pregnant woman of coronavirus (COVID-19) after she was allegedly refused treatment and admission by two government-run hospitals, “denied oxygen support” by another and “misdiagnosed” by a private hospital.

After Amreen complained of chest pain and breathlessness on May 26, her family first took her to a private hospital, which referred her to a government hospital, apparently misdiagnosing her unease for a heart ailment. The J.P. Hospital, a COVID-19 hospital, refused her admission and treatment, as did the Indira Gandhi Mahila Evam Bal Chikitsalaya, a hospital for Bhopal gas tragedy women survivors, where her pregnancy was being monitored as a registered patient, said her 27-year-old husband, a hairdresser, requesting anonymity.

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When the family approached the Sultania Zanana Hospital, Amreen, 23, had to allegedly sit outside for three hours without oxygen support before being briefly admitted. The family was then asked to take her to the Hamidia Hospital, a COVID-19 facility. She was reportedly taken there in an ambulance without oxygen support and was admitted around 9 a.m. the next morning.

The woman finally got ventilator support at the Hamidia Hospital, and hours later tested positive for COVID-19. “However, the relief was short-lived, as the foetus was declared dead in the womb in the evening,” said the husband.

The J.P. Hospital, said the man, refused admission saying she was not their patient. They reportedly asked him to take her to the Indira Gandhi hospital instead where her pregnancy was being examined. “Her situation was terrible, but this was their response,” said the man. But, at the gas relief hospital where the family reached at 1 a.m., she was refused admission as she showed COVID-19-like symptoms.

Although the Bhopal administration has directed the six State-run gas relief hospitals to sample patients for the infection, the procedure was not done for Amreen.

“An inquiry is being conducted into the death. There is no sampling during emergency hours. And she was brought late at night,” said Ravi Verma, Chief Medical Officer, Gas Relief.

Meanwhile, Sunil Kumar Gupta, Medical Superintendent of the Indira Gandhi hospital, laid the blame squarely on the other hospitals. “At least we examined her. Others didn’t even do that and just shooed her away,” he claimed.

Of the first 60 of the 72 to succumb to the illness in Bhopal, at least 45, or 75%, were survivors of the 1984 methyl isocyanate leak from a pesticide unit here. Another three, including Amreen, were survivors’ children, said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

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