Suspected COVID-19 Patient Dies in India After Family Unplugs Ventilator to Plug in Air Cooler

The hospital's air conditioners had been deactivated to prevent the spread of coronavirus, so the patient's family brought a portable air cooler.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
A Suspected Coronavirus Patient in India Died After Family Unplugged Ventilator to Plug in Air Cooler
A medical staff checks on a ventilator of an intensive care unit at a newly inaugurated hospital in Chennai on March 27, 2020. Photo courtesy of Arun Sankar / AFP

A suspected COVID-19 patient in India died on Monday after his family members allegedly unplugged his ventilator, which provided him with much-needed oxygen, to switch on their air cooler.

The incident occurred on June 15 at the Maharao Bhimsingh Hospital (MBS) hospital in the Kota district of the North Indian state of Rajasthan.

The patient was a 40-year old man who arrived at the hospital reporting breathing difficulties and was suspected to have COVID-19. “The hospital hasn’t been designated as a COVID-19 centre, but for the safety of our patients, we have made a makeshift isolation ward to admit suspected patients,” Dr Navin Saxena, medical superintendent at the MBS Hospital told VICE News over the phone.


According to Dr Navin Saxena, the patient tested negative for COVID-19 after his death.

The daytime temperature in Kota that day was 41 degrees Celsius, or around 106 fahrenheit.

The patient’s family members brought their own air cooler without informing hospital staff, who had deactivated the isolation ward's air conditioners to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Dr Saxena says that while the patient's ventilator had a backup battery, the family didn’t inform hospital staff they were unplugging it. The battery eventually ran out of charge and the patient’s condition immediately deteriorated before he passed away.

The doctor on duty filed a complaint saying the patient’s relatives had misbehaved and been negligent.

“We have set up a committee with the deputy superintendent of the hospital, nursing superintendent, isolation ward staff and Chief Medical Officer to file a report that details what happened,” says Dr Saxena, adding that the cause of death would also be confirmed in the report.

VICE News reached out to the Kota district’s Nayapura area police station but a police official said no formal complaint had been filed with the police.

At the time of writing, Rajasthan has more than 13,857 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases in India currently stands at over 381,000.

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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.