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State failure to deliver costs pregnant woman first child

Turned away in labour from one government hospital and denied bed and care in another, Gurminder Kaur, 25, lived the horror of losing her first child in the womb.

punjab Updated: Jul 11, 2013 21:52 IST
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Hindustan Times

Turned away in labour from one government hospital and denied bed and care in another, Gurminder Kaur, 25, lived the horror of losing her first child in the womb.

Her poor family borrowed Rs 60,000 on interest to pay private hospital charges when forced to move her there. “I am shocked and still can’t believe my son is dead,” said the woman, tears rolling down her face.

At 10pm on July 2, the family took Gurminder Kaur, 25, to the government primary health centre (PHC) at Jamsher village. “I was in labour pains when a woman on duty told me no doctor or care was available. Without any medical examination or consulting any medical officer, she referred me to the Jalandhar Civil Hospital,” said Gurminder Kaur.

Around 11pm, the 108 ambulance moved her to Jalandhar. “After registration, my daughter-in-law was not allotted a bed. We were told none was vacant. She had to sit on the floor. When we requested doctors and nurses to at least start the treatment, they told us bluntly to not teach them basics,” Jaswant Kaur, Gurminder’s mother-in-law, stated in her July 8 complaint to the civil surgeon (CS).

“The doctor did not examine Gurminder and said he would wait for her to go into full labour pains. The nurses did not examine the foetus’ heartbeat. As Gurminder was vomiting, I requested the members of the staff to give her some medicine but was told not to disturb them,” said Jaswant Kaur.

Finding no one attending to her daughter-in-law even after four hours of admission, the frightened family decided to move her to a private hospital in Jalandhar Cantonment. “At 3am on July 3, we put her on a bicycle rickshaw and, at 5am, had reached the hospital. The attending doctor declared the baby dead in the womb, since the heartbeat was missing,” said Jaswant Kaur.

“At 7am, doctors operated upon her to deliver the dead baby. Had she been given treatment in time at Jamsher, my grandson would have been alive,” said Jaswnt Kaur, blaming the loss also on the indifferent attitude of the medical team at the Jalandhar Civil Hospital who let four hours go by.The family has accused the Jamsher and Jalandhar medical teams of negligence and demanded action.

“We borrowed Rs 60,000 on interest to pay the private hospital. Institutional deliveries are free for cost at the government hospitals but the government fails to deliver on healthcare promises,” said Gurminder’s husband, daily wager Amrik Singh.

Civil surgeon Dr RL Bassan said initially that the Jamsher PHC referred serious delivery cases to the Jalandhar Civil Hospital usually. “My staff did its duty by arranging ambulance in time. The civil hospital team is under the direct purview of medical superintendent Dr Bhag Mal,” said Dr Bassan.

Asked to clarify if the civil hospital wasn’t in his jurisdiction, he said he would get the role of both medical teams investigated. “We will take requisite action against the officials concerned, if they are found guilty in the inquiry,” he said. He was yet to act on the complaint submitted to him two days ago.

“We were neither allowed to meet the civil surgeon nor issued a receipt number for the complaint,” said Jaswant Kaur. D Bassan said he would check with his office.Asked for his reaction, health minister Madan Mohan Mittal said it was “a serious matter” and he would seek a report from the civil surgeon. “Appropriate action will be taken against the erring staffers,” he said.

First Published: Jul 10, 2013 21:23 IST