It was just another day in business for 34-year-old Pradeep Saini. He unlocked his steel-and-cement shop at Khirki Extension in Malviya Nagar early morning — a few hours before the characteristic chaos, which invades this small but overcrowded South Delhi locality every day, made its noisy entry.
He wasn’t feeling okay.
An uncanny drowsiness was wearing him down. Suddenly, he started to vomit.
The family was called for help. He was rushed to Apollo, one of the capital’s best-known hospitals.
Initial examinations revealed no abnormality. He was shifted to medical intensive care unit (MICU) for laboratory tests. There was no cause for worry. ‘He is stable, take him home’ was the hospital’s advice at 8. 30 p.m.
At 9 p.m. his condition worsened. He started vomiting blood.
He died six hours later, leaving the family — two minor children, his young wife and ailing parents — stunned and searching for answers.
“We took him to the hospital at 9.15 a.m. on June 16, 2003. A consultant saw him initially, but there was no one to attend to him all day,” recalls 69-year-old Khushal Singh Saini, Pradeep’s father.
“We made at least 10 calls to the concerned doctor but he did not respond.”
Pradeep was shifted to the MICU around 11.30 a.m. but the monitoring doctor came only at 9 p.m., after his condition had become serious, he claims. “About 8 hours were lost by then.”
Pradeep was vomiting blood and became unstable. Blood transfusion did not help. At 3.05 a.m. he was declared dead.
His 67-year-old mother Krishna Saini has not been able to recover from the shock. She is undergoing treatment for depression.
The family moved the State Consumer Redressal Commission that pinned the hospital’s negligence on the delay in treatment.
In an order (March 13, 2009), the commission observed, “The deficiency was in respect of making the doctors available in opportune time. The patient remained unattended for a few hours.”
Relying on the report of the ethics committee of Medical Council of India (MCI), the commission slapped a compensation of Rs 5 lakh on the hospital.
“There was total failure of communication between attendants of the patient, the hospital staff and the treating doctor. This is deplorable and it should not have happened,” the MCI had ruled.
The committee had also pointed
out the hospital also did not follow
legalities. “It could have been a case of poisoning but no post-mortem was conducted and the police were not informed,” the report states.
The family feels the hospital got away lightly and the doctor was let off.
“Responsibility has to be fixed. I still don’t know what killed my son,” the father says.
“If need be, we will go to Supreme Court. The treating doctor, Dr Rakesh Gupta, should be punished.”
Pradeep’s wife 34-year-old Ritu Sarin doesn’t talk much. She has only one question to ask.
“We have been given Rs 5 lakh. Is that the value of a human life?”