A day after an 11-year-old boy died of snakebite in Jalladanpettai near Tambaram, his uncle has lashed out at hospitals that denied the boy treatment.

M. Bhaskaran, paternal uncle of the boy T. Sakthivel, told The Hindu on Saturday that precious time was lost while he was shuttled from one hospital to another. Sakthivel, who was bitten by a snake an hour past midnight on Wednesday at his house, was rushed to a primary health centre in Medavakkam.

“The staff at the government hospital (PHC) in Medavakkam did not open the door. From inside, one of them asked us to take him to a private hospital. The staff informed us that they did not have enough medicines or doctors to treat him.

“We then took him to a private clinic in East Tambaram, which also expressed inability to treat a snakebite victim. We then proceeded towards Chromepet GH (Tambaram Taluk Government Hospital), but on the way Sakthivel became serious. We turned back and reached Global Hospital in Perumbakkam,” he said.

“We were asked to pay Rs. 75,000 for admission and treatment of Sakthivel. My efforts to persuade them to accept the five thousand rupees I had with me went in vain. We then took him in Global Hospital’s ambulance to the children’s hospital in Egmore,” Mr. Bhaskaran said. He said he was impressed with the care Sakthivel received at the hospital in Egmore: a big team of doctors was closely monitoring him. “He regained consciousness and asked for water and food, which gave us some hope. But it was short-lived. On Friday morning, we were informed of his death,” Mr. Bhaskaran said.

Hospital denies charge

In response, a doctor on duty at Medavakkam PHC said the centre had just one anti-snake venom vial and very few medical personnel. Monitoring a snakebite victim required a big team of specialists, he said. A spokesperson for Global Hospital refuted the claims made by Mr. Bhaskaran.

As it was a serious case, doctors were called in and they started medical procedures immediately without waiting for him to pay. When they informed Mr. Bhaskaran about the medical costs involved in treatment, the boy’s relatives decided to take him to a government hospital.

The hospital arranged for an ambulance to drop Sakthivel at the Egmore hospital free of cost and they did not even charge for the medical procedures they had carried out soon after the boy arrived, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, doctors at Chromepet GH said the boy should have been brought to them as more than adequate anti-snake venom vials were available at the hospital.

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