LAHORE: A critical patient died in a private ambulance on Ferozepur Road after four hospitals allegedly denied him treatment.

Iftikhar Ali (57), a father of seven, breathed his last outside the Ghulab Devi Hospital late on Tuesday.

A fruit seller by profession, Iftikhar was brought from Farooqabad (Sheikhupura) with a rod in his leg that was fixed during a surgery at the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, and pus was oozing out of the wounds besides some breathing issues.Iftikhar Ali and his helpless family were driven from pillar to post by the doctors who referred him from one hospital to another in the provincial capital.

Surprisingly, the matter of denying treatment to the patient by the Services and Ghulab Devi hospitals was in the knowledge of caretaker health minister Prof Javed Akram.

He expressed his guilt for the alleged criminal negligence on the part of doctors of the hospitals saying that he would take up the matter with the higher authorities.

Another irritating part of the incident was that the family had run out of money to pay fare to ambulance driver who was demanding compensation for taking more time on the road, a relative of the patient told Dawn.

According to the treatment notes, the last hospital the family visited was the Services where the doctors allegedly denied him admission even though they had recommended immediate surgery after examining him in the emergency ward.

The patient’s relative said Iftikhar was in an unbearable pain in his fractured leg due to deep infection. He said the patient was also complaining of breathing problems and the doctors paid no heed to family’s repeated requests for admission to the Services as the medics were asking them to re-visit OPD any other day.

The family alleged that the doctors discharged the patient, ignoring his life-threatening health conditions.

One of the relatives said the doctor suggested them to take him to the Ghulab Devi Hospital or any other private health facility.

“We helplessly took him to the Ghulab Devi Hospital where doctors refused to admit him giving an excuse that they visited the hospital late night and suggested them to take him to any other health facility,” Iftikhar’s relative Yameen told this reporter.

He said Iftikhar was operated upon some weeks back at the Mayo Hospital when his leg got fractured in a road accident in Sheikhupura.

He was discharged from the hospital and the family took him back to their native district, Yameen said.

A few days after the operation, he complained of severe pain in the leg.

The Mayo Hospital refused to admit Iftikhar and asked him to wait at home, he said adding that one of the doctors suggested the family to take the patient to a private hospital in Lahore Cantt.

He said he was admitted to a private hospital a week back where the patient underwent another surgery.

The poor family had sold some household items and arranged Rs600,000 for treatment. During treatment, the hospital administration informed them that the deposit had been drained, asking them to arrange Rs400,000 more.

Yameen said when the family showed their inability to pay more, the hospital discharged the patient three days after the admission and suggested them to take him to any government hospital for free treatment.

“We had then brought Iftikhar in serious condition to the Services Hospital”, he said and expressed his utter disappointment regarding the ‘inhuman’ behaviour of the hospitals and the doctors towards the poor and deserving patients.

Services Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Mohammad Ehtisham told Dawn that there was no policy to admit patients through emergency ward saying that he had suggested the family to re-visit next day and get admission slip from its OPD.

When asked about the critical condition of the patient, Ehtisham said he was helpless because he knew well no doctor from the emergency ward would entertain him for indoor treatment.

It merits mentioning that recently the Young Doctors Association Punjab had shut down the hospitals for the rights of the medics in the wake of an incident at Children’s Hospital, Lahore, when a duty doctor was thrashed by some attendants after a sick child died owing to alleged negligence.

The protest ended after the YDA put the ‘pay raise’ demand on the top and the health authorities promised to address it on a priority basis.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2023

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