Coronavirus

Indian Hospital Says a Suspected COVID-19 Patient Died After Family Unplugged Ventilator to Plug in Air Cooler

The man allegedly passed away after the family forgot to tell the hospital staff to re-plug the ventilator.
19 June 2020, 3:31pm
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 allegedly died after his family members unplugged the ventilator, which was giving him breathing support, to switch on an air cooler.

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

The patient who passed away was a 40-year old man who came to the hospital with 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 him, the patient tested negative for COVID-19 after his death.

The daytime temperature in Kota on that fateful day was 41 degrees Celsius.

The patient’s family members came to visit him and brought along their own air cooler without informing the hospital. The hospital had not installed an air conditioner in the isolation ward to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Dr Saxena says that while the ventilator given to the patient had a backup battery, the family didn’t inform the hospital staff that they were unplugging it. The battery discharged eventually. The patient’s condition turned critical on the same day, after which 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, in whose jurisdiction the hospital falls. A police official said no formal complaint had been filed with the police regarding this incident.

At the time of writing this, 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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