A second dengue-struck child died of alleged medical negligence in Delhi on Sunday night, within a week since the death of a seven-year-old and subsequent suicide of his grief-stricken parents sparked national outrage.
The father of six-year-old Aman Sharma, who died at the privately-run Holy Family hospital in south Delhi, alleged that he took his ailing son to five hospitals since the child’s high fever was noticed on Friday.
Aman was initially taken to Jeewan hospital, where his condition deteriorated and the doctors asked father Manoj Sharma to shift him to a better-equipped hospital such as Moolchand or Max Super Specialty.
But the family from Srinivaspuri couldn’t get him admitted to either of the two suggested hospitals as vacant beds were not available. The child was then taken to the state-run Safdarjung hospital, where he was given antibiotics and paracetamol to treat his condition.
“The family wanted to go to a private hospital and moved him out of Safdarjung in less than two hours after they managed to secure a bed at Batra hospital. They took him away from Safdarjung against medical advice,” a Safdarjung doctor said without giving his name as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
But Aman’s father alleged that the doctors had cleared him. "Doctors at Safdarjung hospital said he did not have dengue and did not need admission, so we left," he said.
He was admitted to Holy Family hospital on Sunday morning and died at 8.20pm after barely 12 hours of treatment.
Aman’s death comes at a time the Delhi government on Tuesday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the September 8 death of seven-year-old Avinash Rout, who was allegedly denied admission by five private hospitals before being admitted to Batra hospital. The traumatised parents committed suicide that very night.
“A magistrate has been told to visit all hospitals that denied admission to the deceased child and look at their CCTV footage. We have asked for a report to be submitted as soon as possible. A legal notice is served and private hospitals have been asked to reply within a month,” said Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain.
The national capital is grappling with its worst dengue crisis in 15 years with five official deaths and 1,872 identified cases so far. In 2010, an outbreak of the vector-borne disease killed eight and affected 6,259 people.
Preparing to tackle the crisis, 1,000 additional beds were across all state-run hospitals in Delhi on Sunday and the government cancelled leave of doctors and paramedics on its payroll the following day.
A dengue helpline — 011-23307145 — was launched but its efficacy remained suspect as many callers complained of “getting just a busy tone”.