A Bihar hospital stuck labels to the foreheads of people injured in last week’s devastating earthquake, prompting widespread outrage on Tuesday as photographs and television grabs of the victims exploded on social media.
Sources said the Darbhanga Medical College Hospital (DMCH) hurriedly set up a makeshift ward in the cardiology department to accommodate quake survivors, but paramedics pasted stickers on the patients marked “bhookamp”, or earthquake, for identification.
Hospital superintendent Dr Shankar Jha said, “It was a huge mistake,” and the administration did not order the process.
Saturday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake that had its epicentre in Nepal ravaged the Himalayan nation, but the tremors also wrecked large parts of Bihar, claimed nearly 60 lives and left hundreds injured and homeless.
Minister in-charge for relief work in Darbhanga district Baidyanath Sahni said he had spoken to Jha on the matter and asked him to have the labels removed immediately.
“I am in the interiors of the district and will visit DMCH to look into the matter on my return,” he said.
While district magistrate Kumar Ravi described the action as wrong, former minister Prem Kumar called it foolish.
“Why anyone would order such a thing is beyond my comprehension. What are they trying to say?” Kumar said. The tags were later ripped off.
While the institute received flak for the insensitive act, Red Cross Society volunteers said they had to face a great deal of embarrassment after setting up a camp to facilitate hospital admissions of quake victims.
“We watched patients being tossed from one ward to another –from the quake ward to the emergency room and back– dozens of times, as no doctor wanted an extended night shift,” said a team leader. “No one was willing to do the paperwork either.”
HT found a female patient from Raj Nagar in Madhubani who was not even provided a stretcher while being shunted from one ward to another.
Read: Bihar quake toll rises to 51, fresh tremors spark panic
Read: Nepal earthquake death toll crosses 4,000; fresh tremors in Bengal, Bihar