Temperatures flare as patient succumbs to Swine Flu

  • Posted on: February 24, 2017

M Kathikeyan’s case was one of the most unfortunate one. He was taken to Sakthi Hospital with symptoms of cough and fever by his parents.

After initial diagnosis, Dr. Siva Kumar and Dr. Nalini Jayanthi suspected viral fever – malarial or typhoid – and started treatment accordingly. Two days into the treatment, M Kathikeyan developed symptoms Swine Flu! Another diagnosis made at Sakthi Hospital by the doctors confirmed the same and hence, the patient was shifted to Government Hospital at Chennai. M Kathikeyan ultimately succumbed to the dreaded Swine Flu (H1N1) three days hence.

The patient’s parents and relatives were not prepared for such an outcome. In all fairness, no family would. But the type of allegations made by them against the doctors and the hospital at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi were quite irrelevant and baseless. It was alleged that Dr. Siva Kumar only advised a Typhoid test rather than advising Swine Flu, and the blood test results were also not procured on time. What’s more is that the doctors made false entries in the progress sheet and the same did not reflect any name or signature of the consulting doctors! It was further alleged that the patient was also suffering from ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) but the nursing staff was indifferent to it and put the patient on ventilator after a considerable delay. The relatives concluded by making the most serious allegation – they stated that the hospital took a false consent from patient’s wife that the patient was discharged in a healthy condition!

It was perhaps the toughest time for the Sakthi hospital and doctors. However, they had a rock-solid defence and facts of the matter in place. The doctors stated that the patient did not show any signs of H1N1 and did not even complain of sore throat, hence the patient did not fall under the ‘C’ category, which makes it mandatory for hospitals and doctors to test for Swine Flu. It was further stated that the patient’s stay at the hospital was only for 2 days and all the necessary tests were done during this short period. However, once H1N1 was suspected, the patient was immediately transferred to the Government Hospital. We followed the guidelines laid by the Health Ministry and WHO – how are we responsible for misdiagnosis, questioned the hospital and doctors.

From the medical records, the Commission observed that the doctors had indeed performed all the relevant tests. The Commission further observed that the patient signs and symptoms were under the ‘A’ and ‘B’ category and hence H1N1 testing was not mandatory at the time of his hospitalisation at Sakthi Hospital. The Commission concluded by stating that while the patient unfortunately died, the line of investigation adopted by the doctors were as per the guidelines set by the Health Ministry. Hence, they cannot be held negligible.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 2nd December, 2016