In February 2017, a 19 year old boy named Sunil met with a road accident while he was running errands for his family on his father’s motorcycle. He was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi in an ambulance, his clothes drenched in blood. The doctors at AIIMS diagnosed him with severe trauma to the head region, with multiple fractures. During the treatment, he slipped into coma. The doctors performed a tracheostomy on him and inserted tubes into his food pipe to feed him. He was put on a ventilator and was catheterised. His poor and uneducated family was distraught. Sunil could stay in coma for a month, or a year, or even more – the doctors had told his parents. Sunil’s parents were just beginning to come to terms with the cruel twist of events in their lives when the attending doctor told the parents to take their intubated son home, with his life hanging in a balance, only because they wanted to free up a hospital bed!
Sunil’s life was saved by an order of the Delhi High Court that prevented the hospital from discharging the boy in his critical condition and mandated the hospital to continue giving him medical treatment. This is the story of one lucky person.
Hundreds and thousands of such Sunils are discharged in severely critical medical conditions from government hospitals like AIIMS across the country. Their families don’t have the financial wherewithal to admit them in a private hospital which charges hefty fees, or to pay for the critical medical equipment without which their loved one would not be able to survive in his/her poor medical state. They, like the large majority of poor Indians, are uninsured as well. Also, the families are not educated/ aware enough to give the patients the medical care they need.
This shocking story made us aware of the lack of a cogent and unambiguous policy on the discharge of patients in critical medical conditions from government hospitals. It is understandable that government hospitals such as AIIMS suffer from an acute scarcity of medical infrastructure, amongst others, owing to its reach to the poorer sections of society. However, can that be reason enough to deprive a patient of getting appropriate medical treatment and care when she needs it the most and which affects her chances of recovery and may even endanger her life itself? No reason can be good enough to deprive a child, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister a fair chance of survival. Therefore, no doctor or hospital should be allowed to discharge or even threaten the family of a patient about discharge when the patient is in no condition to be discharged. We cannot allow reasons such as infrastructural scarcity to jeopardize medical treatment to a person and her chance at life! It is imperative that we push the machinery of the government into creating reasonable guidelines for discharge of critical patients in need of medical care.
We know that we will be able to bring this change but we require your help. You could help us with your time or financial resources. Write to us if you’d like to work with us on this project and/ or you could pay for our services in relation to this project through the link on our website.
Estimated initial cost of service: Rs. 5, 000, 00. USD equivalent: