31-year-old with single-digit oxygen saturation dies struggling to find a bed

Updated - April 11, 2021 12:13 am IST

Published - April 10, 2021 08:23 pm IST - Bengaluru

A 31-year-old resident of Shivajinagar in Bengaluru died early on Saturday after being denied admission by two hospitals, prompting the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to order an inquiry.

Authorities at Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital in Vasanth Nagar and the hospital’s branch in Girinagar did not admit the patient although ICU bed allotment was done through the State’s 108 centralised bed allotment portal.

Mohammed Ismail from the Emergency Response Team (ERT), a volunteer group, who coordinated all through the night’s ordeal, said the case showed that bed shortage was again becoming an issue. “There is no guarantee of their availability even when bed allotment is done through the government,” he said.

Ordeal begins

It all began around 6.15 p.m. on Friday when the patient’s condition deteriorated after he was forced to leave a smaller hospital in Madiwala where he had been admitted for non-COVID treatment. He later tested positive, but the hospital did not have COVID-19 beds. The family hired an ambulance to take him home till a bed was found. The patient had been put on oxygen, but in the absence of an oximeter they did not realise the situation was deteriorating, Mr. Ismail told The Hindu .

He immediately coordinated with 108 to get a bed allotted and a High Dependency Unit bed was blocked at Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital at 8.15 p.m. However, on reaching the hospital around 8.30 p.m., the family was told there were no beds. “Although the central bed allotment portal showed the availability of beds, the hospital said they did not have beds and the same was not updated on the portal,” he said. Meanwhile, the oxygen cylinder in the ambulance was depleting.

At 9 p.m., 108’s bed allotment team found another bed at the Jain Hospital branch in Girinagar. “But when the patient reached the hospital at 9.50 p.m., he was refused admission again on the basis that there were no beds available,” Mr. Ismail said. The hospital told officials from the war room that they had not yet started taking government patients. But the portal showed the hospital had beds. “They, however, checked his vitals. His oxygen saturation had plummeted to 25%. We managed to convince the hospital to keep him in the Emergency Room and give him oxygen till another bed was found, and by the time they took him in the saturation had dropped to 7%,” he said.

“However, after he was started on oxygen the saturation increased to 57%, but he needed a ventilator. At 12.40 a.m., the family managed to get an ICU bed at a hospital in Koramangala and he was shifted. After battling the whole night, the patient, a father of two, breathed his last around 4 a.m.,” Mr. Ismail said.

He highlighted the issue of the portal not being updated with the right information.

‘Not alerted’

Nishant Hiremath, nodal officer for COVID-19 at Jain Hospital, said the hospital was not informed by the BBMP team that a critical patient was being sent. “They used to call us prior to sending a critical patient to avoid any hassles, but they did not call in this case. Also, all three of our ICU beds set aside for BBMP patients were full,” he said.

The civic body has issued a show-cause notice to the hospital for denying bed to the patient in spite of a bed being blocked through the portal. BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta told The Hindu that an inquiry has been ordered. “This was a case of late referral and the patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly within hours. People should not ignore any symptoms and should get tested at the earliest,” he said.

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