Inquiry finds Dr Furqan's death result of Karachi Civil Hospital doctor's 'misjudgment'

Updated 06 May 2020

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Report probing death says duty doctor at CHK was negligent when he failed to admit the patient to the hospital. — Reuters/File
Report probing death says duty doctor at CHK was negligent when he failed to admit the patient to the hospital. — Reuters/File

A special committee formed by the Sindh government to probe the death of Dr Furqanul Haq – who became the third member of the medical fraternity in Karachi to have died from the coronavirus – concluded in its report that "misjudgment" on part of the medical officer at Civil Hospital was the cause of his death.

After he passed away on Sunday, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General Dr Qaiser Sajjad had alleged Dr Haq needed to be put on a ventilator but could not find the facility despite visiting several hospitals in the city.

Following these claims, on Monday night, Sindh Government Spokesperson Senator Murtaza Wahab announced a committee had been formed to investigate the matter and produce a report "within 24 hours".

According to the committee's report, issued on Wednesday morning, the on-duty doctor at Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) who examined the patient showed negligence when he failed to admit him to the hospital despite availability of at least nine ICU beds.

However, the report also states that the patient was reluctant to be admitted to any hospital.

Recounting the events that led to Dr Haq's death, the report says he was diagnosed with the virus on May 1, after which the Sindh Health Department through a rapid response team was in contact with the patient until May 2.

On May 3, the doctor's condition worsened and he was advised to go to Indus Hospital by his niece, Dr Nida. However, foregoing this advice, Dr Haq planned a visit to Sindh Institute of Urology & Transplantation (SIUT) instead, on the advice of his colleague Dr Amir.

However, when an Aman ambulance arrived, it took Dr Haq to CHK, rather than SIUT. At CHK, Dr Haq was transferred by the emergency staff to the coronavirus control room, where he was examined by Dr Jagdesh, the medical officer on duty.

"Instead of admitting him, he (Dr Jagdesh) advised Dr Haq to contact the concerned doctor who had arranged a bed for him," the report says.

"Patient left in the ambulance and went home instead of any other hospital. On reaching home, his condition worsened and he was then taken to Trimax Hospital — which is where he worked privately," the report adds.

The doctor who examined Dr Haq at Trimax was of the opinion that he required specialist care with possibility of ventilation. At this point, the report says, Dr Haq was once again taken home after being "fed up".

"The family of the patient was not available for comments but the patient eventually went to (DOW University's) Ojha campus where he was announced to be brought in dead," the report says.

"The committee is of the view that there was a serious lack of communication. The patient should have been admitted by Dr Jagdesh in CHK since he was in no state to travel to Ojha or any other hospital."

The report also recommends initiation of disciplinary proceedings against Dr Jagdesh for "his misjudgement" – "an act of omission rather than deliberate" due to which a patient lost his life.

The claim that Sindh government was facing a shortage of ventilators was already refuted on Monday by Media Coordinator to the Health and Population Welfare Minister Meeran Yousuf, who claimed ventilators and beds were available at CHK and and Jinnah Hospital.