A purported audio clip of a senior nursing staff narrating alleged negligence in connecting the ventilator 'leading' to the death of a COVID-19 patient at a state-run hospital here triggered an outrage, prompting the Kerala government to order a probe on Monday.
In the WhatsApp audio clip, allegedly sent to her fellow staff members at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kalamassery, the staff is heard saying that 'misplacement' of the ventilator tubes led to the death of the man on July 20 in the intensive care unit.
The family of the patient petitioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking action while the hospital authorities dismissed as baseless the remarks in the audio clip which went viral on social media and demanded action against those who circulated it. Vijayan said the government would look into the issue and assured necessary steps and Health Minister K K Shailaja directed the Medical Education Director to carry out a detailed inquiry and submit a report speedily.
In a statement, the Health Minister's office said the nursing officer will be suspended pending enquiry. In the audio, the staff told fellow nurses about the need to be more vigilant while giving care to the patients admitted to the hospital while citing the death.
He was recuperating well in the ICU and was to be shifted to the ward. He died as his ventilator tubes were misplaced.And his relatives had lodged a complaint, she had purportedly said.
The nursing officer also reportedly said those who were responsible for the death escaped punishment as the doctors did not reveal the cause of death to the patient's relatives. The family of the man here on Monday petitioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking action against those responsible for his death due to "the medical negligence".
Congress MP Hibi Eden, who visited the bereaved family, shot off a letter to the Chief Minister seeking a thorough probe into the alleged incident. Addressing a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayan assured steps to prevent such lapses.
"Our medical sector is handling the pandemic situation in a better manner and we do not want our name to be tarnished due to such incidents. We will look into matter and ensure prevention of any such lapses, if any, in this regard", the Chief Minister said. The medical college authorities termed as "baseless, untrue and irresponsible" the content of the whatsapp message and said it was a "creation" of the nursing officer herself.
She herself had explained that such a message was created to make the staff more vigilant in their duty, they said. In a statement, the hospital said the man was admitted to the hospital on June 26 with COVID-19 symptoms and he had not recovered from the deadly virus till his demise on July 20.
He was an acute diabetic and high BP patient and also overweight and suffering due to lack of proper breathing. Besides, he was also suffering from serious COVID pneumonia. He was not in a position to be shifted to the ward.
The hospital also said he was put on NIV ventilator support and not on mechanical ventilator support. Tubes cannot be misplaced while being put on NIV ventilator support, it said.
The statement signed by Medical College Principal V Satheesh and Medical Superintendent Peter P Vazhayail demanded action against those who circulated it on social media.