Woman gives birth on sidewalk in Safdarjung Hospital, probe ordered

Updated on Jul 20, 2022 06:18 AM IST

The hospital administration denied allegations that they turned the patient away, and claimed the woman did not return to the facility with the required admission documents. The hospital also ordered an inquiry into the matter.

File photo Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi.(HT )
File photo Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi.(HT )
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A 21-year-old woman gave birth on a pavement in the Safdarjung Hospital complex on Monday after allegedly being denied admission to the facility for over 12 hours, an incident that came to light after videos of the delivery beside a trash went viral on social media on Tuesday.

The hospital administration denied allegations that they turned the patient away, and claimed the woman did not return to the facility with the required admission documents. The hospital also ordered an inquiry into the matter.

Five doctors were also debarred from duty till a probe is carried out in the matter, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.

Poonam Singh, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, was referred to Safdarjung hospital on Monday from a hospital in UP’s Dadri as an “emergency case”, but the family alleged that upon reaching the facility on Monday evening and after an examination at the gynaecology unit, she was administered painkillers and sent away, with hospital authorities saying beds were unavailable.

“The doctor who examined her gave her some medicine and sent us away. First, they said it was not labour pain and then they said that they did not have nurses to take up the case,” said Suman Kumari, Poonam’s sister-in-law.

The family said that after running in and out of the hospital for over 12 hours, Poonam went into labour around 9.15am on Tuesday.

Rabia Singh, a lawyer, who saw Poonam crying in pain right before she gave birth, said, “When she felt that the baby was crowning, she sat down exactly where she was standing — beside a trash can. I and some other attendees who were with other patients helped her. Some women wrapped their sarees and dupattas around her to curtain the area off.”

Rabia, who recorded the incident on her mobile, alleged that a nurse from the hospital arrived only after hearing the chaos outside. The nurse then snapped the umbilical cord and took the baby inside. The mother was helped on to a stretcher by onlookers.

However, in a statement issued on Tuesday, the administration denied the claims and said they adhered to a “no-refusal policy”.

“As Safdarjung Hospital has a no refusal policy, she was examined by a senior resident on duty at 5.45pm on June 18 and her condition was found to be 33+6 weeks gestation with preeclampsia in early labour. The patient was offered admission, but she did not return with the admission paper,” the statement said.

Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication which is usually characterised by high blood pressure among expecting mothers.

The statement also said the baby and Poonam Singh were admitted to the hospital (after the delivery) and were stable.

Doctors from the hospital also said that an inquiry has been set up to look into possible lapses.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to the hospital on Tuesday.

Yashoda Devi, the woman’s mother-in-law, said, “They asked us to get an ultrasound. We waited to get one till 9pm on Monday and then they said an ultrasound cannot be conducted because the machine is not working.” She said Poonam gave birth to a baby girl.

The Union health ministry said a fact-finding team was sent to Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday.

“Five doctors have been debarred from duties till a high-level probe into the matter is carried out,” the health ministry said.

The notice has been issued to the head of the department of gynaecology, a senior professor of the gynaecology department and an office order has been issued to two senior residents and a junior resident for the incident.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Soumya Pillai covers environment and traffic in Delhi. A journalist for three years, she has grown up in and with Delhi, which is often reflected in the stories she does about life in the city. She also enjoys writing on social innovations.

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