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 has 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 on Sunday, “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 about trivial things (asking me if I had collected her footwear from the emergency ward), 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 on, she suffered multiple complications. The doctors had written her off several times and had always 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.

“We have witnessed, unearthed and exposed numerous severe wrongdoings, criminal negligence, malpractices and manipulations by doctors and other individuals of the hospital. In retaliation, the hospital revoked our 24/7 access to our patient (which was available for up to two years),” he said in a petition to the City Police Commissioner.

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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. “The very fact that the hospital is not demanding further payment shows that they are trying to cover up their wrongdoings,” he alleged.

Hospital’s denial

Manipal Hospitals, in a statement, said: “She 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 a catastrophic bleeding from the trachea leading to a critical condition. She is under doctors’ observation and continues to fight for her life under ventilator support.”

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 also sought legal opinion and support from the investigating authorities as it felt that there has been foul play or domestic violence, which caused the abdomen injury,” the statement added.

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Sagar Biswas

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