Irregularities widespread in 3 hospitals
The health directorate inspected three hospitals in the capital's Uttara and found widespread irregularities, including treating Covid-19 patients without permission and that too with insufficient equipment and shortage of trained doctors and nurses.
The hospitals inspected on Saturday by a committee of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) are Shin Shin Japan Hospital, Uttara Al-Ashraf General Hospital and Radical Hospital.
The five-member committee submitted its report to the director general of DGHS on Sunday.
Shin Shin Japan Hospital came under the scanner after the death of Sabuj Peris, 35, and his family's allegation that he was beaten indiscriminately and left without treatment at the hospital for hours.
Sabuj had been admitted to the facility on July 18 with breathing difficulties. He died on July 26 while undergoing treatment at United Hospital, where he was transferred following the incident three days earlier.
The DGHS committee investigated the three hospitals after the incident came to light.
The three hospitals were overcharging patients for Covid-19 treatment despite insufficient central oxygen supply, ventilators, high-flow nasal cannulas and shortage of trained doctors and nurses, the report said.
During treatment, many Covid patients died at the three hospitals, but the hospital authorities concealed the information from the DGHS as they had no Covid treatment permission from the directorate, found the DGHS committee.
More than 40 Covid-19 patients died at Radical Hospital, according to the report.
During the visit, the committee found only one doctor in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital. The doctor was not wearing any personal protective equipment (PPE).
Oxygen cylinders were kept on the ground floor ignoring safety measures, and this could have caused a serious accident at any moment, the committee found.
Although there are other commercial establishments in the building, there are no separate lift or stairs dedicated for Covid-19 patients, the report said.
Uttara Al-Ashraf General Hospital has been operating a nine-bed ICU with only one ventilator, one high-flow nasal cannula and without sufficient oxygen support and the requisite number of specialist doctors and health workers, the report added.
If a patient's condition deteriorates, the hospital referred the patient to other hospitals due to a lack of treatment support, exposing the patient to further risk, the report said.
The committee found all three hospitals charged Covid-19 patients exorbitantly, at rates much higher than those fixed by the government.
The committee in its report recommended a temporary suspension of Radical Hospital's licence and its treatment activities because it continues to risk patients' lives by dispensing Covid-19 treatment without necessary facilities while charging patients exorbitant amounts.
The hospital has also concealed Covid-19 treatment information, breaching a DGHS notice issued to the hospital on May 9 to stop Covid treatment.
The report also recommended stopping Covid treatment at Shin Shin Japan Hospital and Uttara Al-Ashraf General Hospital.
It also recommended issuing show-cause notices asking why their licences should not be suspended for risking patients' lives by providing Covid-19 treatment without necessary facilities, over-charging and concealing information on Covid-19 treatment services while not having permission for it.
It also said mobile courts should be deployed to ensure that such hospitals abide by rules and standard practices.
Radical Hospital is operating a 10-bed ICU without sufficient ventilators, high-flow nasal cannulas, sufficient oxygen management and the requisite number of doctors and nurses.
The hospital also collected surplus bills showing various reasons while keeping patients hostage by refusing to discharge them until the bills were paid.
Shin Shin Japan Hospital continued treatment of Covid-19 patients without approval from the DGHS and increased the risk of infection by providing treatment to both Covid and non-Covid patients without proper safety measures.
It charges exorbitantly for oxygen and forces patients to pay more than the government-fixed rates for cardiac monitors, high flow nasal cannulas and service charge.
As a chart of charges were not displayed at public places at the hospital, it appears that the hospital used to collect fees as per the authorities' whims, the report says.
ALLEGATIONS OF SABUJ'S FAMILY
Sabuj, from Sirajdikhan in Munshiganj, had been experiencing breathing problems and after his family could not find beds at various hospitals, they admitted him to Shin Shin Japan Hospital on July 18 after a broker informed them of a vacant ICU bed there.
The daily charge for the ICU bed was Tk 35,000, excluding all other charges, Jyoti Costa, Sabuj's father-in-law, told The Daily Star on Sunday.
He said on July 21, the hospital informed them that the patient immediately needed an Avastin injection, which they collected from Dhanmondi at Tk 80,800.
After the injection was administered, Sabuj started behaving abnormally from 1:30 am on July 23 and stabbed three nurses -- Mitu Rego, Kakoli and Sagar -- on duty at the ICU, he said.
Then, several unknown officials and staffers, upon the instigation of the hospital's General Manager Shariful Islam, beat him indiscriminately from 1:30 am to 6:00 am, Jyoti said in a complaint lodged with Uttara West Police Station.
His right hand was fractured and his left wrist disjointed, the complaint said.
Jyoti said when he reached the hospital around 10:00am that morning he found Sabuj with his hands and legs tied to a hospital bed in front of the ICU. Jyoti found bruises on different parts of Sabuj's body.
With the assistance of police, he took Sabuj to United Hospital for treatment where he died on July 26. He had to pay Tk 60,000 extra for the treatment of the nurses, along with a total bill of more than Tk 5 lakh to the Uttara hospital and around Tk 8 lakh to United Hospital.
He said Sabuj was supposed to migrate to the US with his family soon. He also demanded a fair investigation into the incident and punishment to those responsible for killing his son-in-law.
Asked whether the Avastin injection has any such reaction, a retired medicine specialist said under condition of anonymity that the injection is given to critical Covid-19 patients and he had never heard of any such side effects.
The hospital GM Shariful Islam claimed that their staffers were not responsible for the beating and that attendants of other patients assaulted Sabuj. He also claimed that their hospital has sufficient treatment facilities.
Saiful Islam, deputy commissioner of Uttara Division of DMP, said Sabuj's lung was 70 percent infected. He was also beaten severely.
"We are waiting for the post mortem report to know the reason behind his death. If his death was caused by the assault, we will take legal action against those involved," he told The Daily Star.
He also said they were collecting information to know whether he was given proper treatment and will then seek the opinion of medical experts.
"If we find any anomalies legal action will be taken. We will also collect a copy of the DGHS investigation on the hospital," he added.