United Hospital accused of taking patient off life support after COVID-19 diagnosis
Peoples Time Desk
The United Hospital in Dhaka’s Gulshan is battling allegations that it took a patient off life support after she had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Her son, World Bank Senior Health Specialist Zia Hyder, is convinced the hospital could have continued her mother’s treatment and she would have survived had she not been denied mechanical ventilation support.
His mother was later transferred to the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital, one of the facilities designated for COVID-19 patients.
United Hospital did not deny that it indeed removed her life support. But the private facility insisted it cannot keep coronavirus patients who must not seek treatment in hospitals other than the ones designated by the government.
Zia in a Facebook post of Sunday detailed the incident, blaming the hospital for his mother’s death and seeking justice for its “unethical, inhumane” actions.
The family had arranged her treatment at home for six days to avoid troubles during the coronavirus lockdown after she developed symptoms of “severe pneumonia” on Apr 5. Zia’s brother, sister-in-law and brother-in-law are physicians.
As they feared, no private hospital, including the Apollo Hospitals, agreed to admit her without coronavirus test when her health took a turn for the worse on Apr 11.
Zia said the level of oxygen saturation in her blood started to drop.
Finally, the family managed to get the 75-year-old admitted to a clinic at Uttara and arranged continuous oxygen supply there.
Meanwhile, her sample was sent to the government’s disease control agency IEDCR for coronavirus test and it came back negative.
The United Hospital admitted her to its intensive care unit and put her on intubated ventilation on Apr 12 based on the test result.
With the support, the oxygen saturation level was at the minimum required level, Zia said.
“Basically Amma was on life support,” he said.
“But, regrettably, the hospital called my brothers on Apr 14 and told them that she would be released immediately because a second test showed she had coronavirus,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable how a renowned hospital like United could discharge an ailing patient on life support when they knew that the patient’s life would be in danger, she would suffer irreparable brain damage, or even die if the ventilation is removed,” Zia said.
Dr Zia, who did doctoral research on epidemiology at Umeå University in Sweden, believes that the hospital could continue treatment of his mother in the glass protected unit avoiding the risk of other patients getting infected while the doctors used protective gear.
Finally, the United Hospital discharged his mother on payment of Tk 200,000 for the two-day treatment.
The hospital also turned down the family’s request to provide an ambulance with ICU facilities.
The family later fetched an ordinary ambulance and Zia believes the one hour without oxygen support cost her mother her life.
“The way the United Hospital forcefully discharged a patient on life support is unprecedented, unethical and illegal,” Zia said, and asked for everyone’s support to fight against the “inhumane” actions of the hospital.
United’s Chief Communication and Business Development Officer Shagufa Anwar said she would not comment on Zia’s mother because the family did not lodge any complaint with the hospital.
“We’ve told this many times at many places that no hospital other than the ones designated by the government can keep COVID-19 patients,” Shagufa said, citing the risk of other patients catching the virus if they did so.
“And we will keep transferring patients to the designated hospitals if they turn out to be COVID-19 positive or we suspect so. We will continue doing so because we are not the hospital that treats COVID-19 patients,” she said.