Women’s death on Jinnah hospital floor, no charge sheet against actual accused, probe finds

LAHORE: The report of an inquiry conducted into the death of an elderly woman who died reportedly due to severe cold on a Jinnah hospital’s floor on January 2 this year, has declared that the doctors who could be responsible for the death were not included in the list of accused, holding two professors responsible for mere mismanagement in their respective wards.

The inquiry was conducted under the chief minister’s direction after the woman’s death, reportedly due to cold she caught on the floor of the hospital.

The incident was widely reported by the media and invited public criticism.

Zahra Bibi, 60, was brought to Lahore from Kasur during the early hours of January 2 this year after she complained of severe pain in her chest. After being shifted to one hospital to another she finally died on the floor of Jinnah Hospital. Her relatives alleged lack of doctors’ attention.

According to official sources, the inquiry report sent to the quarters concerned for submission to the chief minster reportedly states that the overall situation in government hospitals was not favourable for every patient, and therefore needed to be looked into.

It reportedly says that Zahra Bibi was brought to the LGH at around midnight on January 1 with medical complications, mainly renal failure. But instead of being treated there, she was shifted to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology. At the PIC, a senior registrar examined her and declared that she did not have any heart problem and instead immediately needed dialysis because of renal failure.

He, therefore, referred her to the Jinnah Hospital where she was sent to an overcrowded ward, having more patients than the 50 available beds. She was put on a bed already occupied by another patient. In the morning she was shifted to the floor after the other patient was taken for biopsy on the bed.

The inquiry report says, according to the sources, the doctors in the General Hospital should not have referred the patient to the PIC as they had proper arrangements to treat renal failure. The PIC senior registrar had rightly referred her to Jinnah Hospital because his institution had no solution to her renal failure.

It says that the woman died in Jinnah Hospital because of lack of treatment. She was a critically ill patient and should not have been shifted to the floor in the severe cold weather.

The inquiry report has found Jinnah Hospital medical superintendent responsible for a minor negligence, and has therefore not leveled any serious charge against him.

Two professors, one each of the General Hospital and Jinnah Hospital, have been accused of poor supervision of their wards as they had not checked the woman. The PIC senior registrar has been exonerated of the charge for his correct handling of the patient.

The report says that ironically those who had checked the patient and were supposed to treat her were not included in the inquiry. As many as five to seven doctors, including associate professor and senior registrar of the Jinnah and General hospitals had checked the woman, and they should be included in the inquiry. Their names should have been included the charge sheet, the inquiry report recommends.

Official sources said the next action would be taken on the direction of the chief minister.

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Hamza Jaffery

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