Tamil Nadu

Madras High Court bats for non-COVID-19 patients

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the State government to ensure that the oxygen needs of non-COVID-19 patients are also taken care of without any compromise.

It also stressed that the bodies of COVID-19 patients should be removed immediately from the hospital wards since their presence might demoralise other patients, adding that those bodies should be disposed of in a dignified manner.

Passing interim orders on a suo motu public interest litigation petition taken up by the court to monitor COVID-19 related activities, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said, “While the State takes care of the COVID-19 patients and the emergency it faces on that account, the needs and concerns of the others must also be kept in mind.

“Patients other than those afflicted by COVID-19 should be able to receive oxygen in the usual course and the local authorities should take appropriate measures to ensure continuous supply for such purpose,” the judges said. They also took note of a complaint made to them regarding bodies being kept in hospital wards for hours together due to reported non-availability of space in mortuaries.

‘Follow protocol’

“Surely, the authorities need to remove the dead bodies as soon as possible but it is also to be appreciated that the number of deaths may be more than the mortuary facilities available at the hospital. However, the other aspect of the matter cannot be excused: if there has been a COVID-19 death, even though the overwhelming factors may have been the other co-morbidities suffered by the patient, the protocol has to be maintained so that the body is disposed of in accordance with such protocol and the body does not become a source for further infection,” the Bench said.

The court also observed that “in several cases, there appears to be a lack of dignity in how the dead bodies are treated and all concerned should make every endeavour to accord a level of dignity to the departed, at least for the final time.”

Apart from a battery of lawyers, the court permitted a concerned citizen, Vaishnavi, also to make her submissions.

She brought to the notice of the court that many elderly patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or other problems were being deprived of regular supply of oxygen, and it was difficult to find an alternative.

“While the State takes care of the COVID-19 patients and the emergency it faces on that account, the needs and concerns of the others must also kept in mind and addressed without compromising such cases in the wake of pandemic. Patients other than those afflicted by COVID-19, should be able to receive oxygen in the usual course and local authorities should take appropriate measures to ensure continuous supply for such purpose,” the court ordered.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 12:34:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-bats-for-non-covid-19-patients/article34582642.ece

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