A controversy has erupted over the death of a 3-year-old boy from Kadungalloor, near Aluva here, on Sunday. According to his family, the boy had told them about swallowing a coin the previous day, and they had done the rounds of three hospitals before the child died. However, all three hospitals have denied allegations of negligence.
The family said the child was first taken to the district hospital at Aluva on Saturday. From there, he was referred to the Ernakulam General Hospital (GH) and then to the Government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Alappuzha.
They were sent home from the MCH after being told that the coin would pass from the body naturally. After they returned home on Saturday night, the child complained of discomfort. He was brought dead to the district hospital on Sunday morning.
Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has ordered an inquiry into the boys death. The Minister has asked the Secretary, Health Department, to determine whether government doctors had treated the child callously.
Prasanna K., Superintendent of the district hospital, said the boys X-ray was taken on Saturday. Since the hospital did not have a paediatric surgeon, he was referred to the Ernakulam GH.
A senior official at the GH said the child was attended to on Saturday by the hospitals senior general surgeon who too felt that a paediatric surgeon should examine the child. Since the hospital did not have a paediatric surgery department and the family was financially backward, the hospital provided an ambulance to take them to the Alappuzha MCH.
SHRC seeks report
R.V. Ramlal, Superintendent, Alappuzha MCH, said the child had not experienced any difficulty in breathing when brought to the hospital. The X-ray showed a foreign body, suggestive of a coin in the abdomen. According to the standard protocol, the mother of the child was advised to give him a lot of water and watch for the foreign body in stool and review if the coin is not passed after a week, he said in a statement.
The State Human Rights Commission has sought a report on the matter by the hospital superintendents. A post-mortem examination would be conducted to determine the cause of his death.
The incident invited scathing criticism from the Opposition parties. Bharatiya Janata Party workers staged a demonstration at the district hospital in Aluva. The police grappled with the workers when they tried to blockade Anwar Sadat, local MLA of the Congress, who is on the hospitals advisory board.
Shanimol Usman, MLA, told reporters in Alappuzha that government doctors were unwilling to treat patients from containment zones and patients with non-COVID-19 conditions rarely received attention in State-run hospitals. Hibi Eden, Ernakulam MP, echoed the sentiment.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the boy had died because the public health care system failed him and his family. He demanded compensation for the family.