Bill of patient with prolonged stay in hospital adds up to ₹6 crore

When the family of 28-year-old Poonam Rana took her to the emergency ward of Manipal Hospitals on Old Airport Road in the wee hours of October 3 in 2015 for abdominal pain, little did they imagine that she would be hospitalised for several years with no sign of recovery or discharge.

Ms. Rana turned 33 on January 1 this year. Over the years, she has gone through multiple complications and is lying comatose in the ICU with the bill running up to ₹6 crore till September 7, 2020.

Her husband Rejish Nair alleged that her vegetative state was “due to negligence… causing oxygen deprivation to the patient by doctors at the hospital during a surgery” for closing a leak in the intestine. This resulted in severe brain damage, he alleged. The hospital has categorically denied the allegation.

Hoping that his wife will recover if treatment as per rehabilitation protocols is administered, Mr. Nair told The Hindu: “For abdominal pain, she underwent an emergency surgery as doctors said she had a perforation in the small intestine. Although she was conscious post-surgery and spoke to me, two days later doctors said she suffered multi-organ failure and asked me to take the ‘body’ home.”

On his insistence, the family put her on continuous renal replacement therapy. “However, she subsequently suffered brain damage, and doctors said she had gone into an irreversible deep coma. But, she came out of coma. However, when the hospital stopped a particular medicine that had led to an improvement in her condition, her health deteriorated. From then, she suffered multiple complications. The doctors had written her off several times and has been insisting that we take ‘the body’ home,” he alleged.

Mr. Nair said numerous representations to the hospital, complaints to police, National Commission for Women, National Human Rights Organisation, and various government bodies, including Central agencies, have not helped in this case. In a petition to the city Police Commissioner, Mr. Nair said the hospital revoked 24/7 access to the patient, which was available for up to two years. Of the ₹5.99 crore that the patient was billed till September 7, 2020, the family has so far managed to pay ₹1.34 crore through health insurance and their own resources.


Hospital response

Manipal Hospitals, in a statement, said the patient had been presented with delayed blunt injury of the abdomen resulting in small intestine perforation and severe abdominal sepsis with multi-system organ failure.

“Recently, she developed catastrophic bleeding from the trachea leading to a critical condition. She is under observation and continues to fight for life under ventilator support,” it said.

The hospital said the medical team had provided the best possible treatment to her despite the constant “abuse and non-cooperation” by the family.

“Every clinical decision taken has been done in complete concurrence with the patient’s father, who is well aware of the unique nature of this case,” the statement said.

“The hospital has sought legal opinion from investigating authorities as it felt there has been foul play or domestic violence, which led to abdomen injury,” the statement added.

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Sagar Biswas

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