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NHRC notice to Labour Ministry over ‘medical negligence’ leading to patient’s death

by Pragati Singh

According to officials, the National Human Rights Commission has issued a show-cause notice to the Union Labour Ministry for alleged medical negligence in the treatment of a suspected coronavirus patient at an ESI hospital here, which resulted in his death at a tie-up facility.

The notice was sent to the ministry’s secretary, who was also directed to investigate the matter and submit a detailed report, according to the NHRC.

The rights panel said in a statement that it has issued a notice to the secretary of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment “to show cause why it should not recommend Rs 2 lakh as monetary relief to the next of kin of the patient who died due to medical negligence” of an ESI facility.

The complainant had alleged that “his father was seriously ill and was suspected of having Covid-19 infection. The ESI hospital in Jhilmil, Delhi, kept referring to him from one government hospital to another, without admitting to the emergency ward, or providing treatment,” the statement said. “The hospital did not refer him to even a private hospital attached with ESI timely, where he could get a bed and timely treatment,” it added.

 According to the proceedings of the case, available on the NHRC website, the death took place at Prakash Hospital in May last year. The man was brought to the ESI hospital by his son, for the first visit on May 25, 2020. The patient was clinically evaluated and found to be a Covid-19 suspect, according to the case proceedings.

“After a persuasive search, one of the tie-up hospital, namely Prakash Hospital agreed to take the patient. The patient was immediately referred to Prakash Hospital on 28.05.2020, and he was admitted there. The patient succumbed to his illness on 29.05.2020,” it said. The rights panel in the statement said that earlier, on the basis of the material on record, the Commission had found that there was a “gross negligence in treatment, referral by the doctors at the ESI hospital, which caused delay in the treatment of the patient leading to his death”.

The Commission observed that this “act of negligence” violated the Right to Health and Right to Life of the victim under Article 21 of the constitution. The NHRC has also asked the secretary of the ministry to submit a report, responding to several queries, including whether Covid-19 negative report is a pre-requisite for getting treatment at ESIC hospital.

“Why the doctors including CMO/superintendent were not aware about any tie-up hospital (the doctors took three days to find the hospital) where the patient could have been referred to,” the NHRC wrote in another query. Why the patient was not checked up or treated by the emergency duty medical officer, is another query, the rights panel has asked while seeking the report, according to the statement. The Commission has also sought additional details from the director general of the ESIC (Employees State Insurance Corporation) in this case, officials said.


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