Nalbari: Medical negligence by the Health Department of Assam has led to the tragic death of a 4-year-old girl from Nalbari.
The child identified as Tanistha Kashyap was suffering from general weakness and diarrhea for which the family on the morning of August 22 took her to the private chamber of a government doctor Dr. Rakesh Kr Jain located in Nalbari. After examining her, the doctor prescribed a few medicines and advised her to stay at home.
Meanwhile, Tanistha’s Cousin Dhritishman Kashyap, aged 11 months, was also suffering from mild fever. The family took him to the private chamber of the same doctor on the same day. Dr. Jain after examining advised the family to admit Dhritishman in Nalbari’s Fuleswari Nursing Home.
Dhritishman underwent a COVID-19 test in the nursing home and he was found to be positive. And as per the direction of Dr. Jain, Dhritishman’s family shifted him to Nalbari Civil Hospital in the afternoon of August 22.
In the meantime, Tanistha’s diarrhea got worse; she had to use the washroom for 4-5 times. The family informed this to Dr. Jain telephonically. The doctor directed the family to bring Tanistha to his home chamber where he advised them to admit her in Nalbari Civil Hospital without diagnosing the ailment of the patient physically.
Based on his advice, Tanistha’s family admitted her to the civil hospital in the evening at around 7:30. The hospital authorities, going against COVID-19 protocols, kept Tanistha in the COVID isolation ward of the hospital without even conducting a COVID-19 test on her.
According to family members, Tanishta and her COVID positive cousin Dhritiman were kept in the same bed in the isolation ward. They were kept as per the verbal direction of Dr. Jain during his visit at around 8:00 PM.
When the family members approached the hospital authorities regarding the matter, they informed the family that the COVID test couldn’t be done due to the lack of PPE Kits and manpower.
Dr. Jain advised the nurse present in the hospital to provide both the siblings with some saline Solution and some kind of injection. Tanistha was injected with “inj Ceftriaxone 250 iv bd” and saline water without proper skin testing.
Twenty minutes after the injection was administered, Tanistha developed sudden Tremors and started trembling. The family had to personally run to the second floor requesting assistance from the duty nurses. During that time, Tanistha’s Saline water injection process was in progress.
Speaking to Headline8, Tanistha’s uncle Chandan Bezboruah said, “Upon seeing that there were no doctors to look after her, I was helpless and with no other options left, I had to enter the COVID isolation ward and request the duty nurses to kindly come and assess Tanistha.”
The nurses told Chandan that there were only 2 nurses in the hospital and not even a single doctor. The nurses also informed that they would not be able to visit the child citing lack of manpower and there was no one to open the saline water.
Upon the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner of Nalbari, one doctor finally came after 45 minutes of the tremors and he informed the family that another doctor named Dr. Gunajit was supposed to be present but was absent from his duty. The doctor called up Dr. Jain and he advised over the phone for another injection named Lopez (LORAZEPAM INJECTION IP 2 MG/ML). The injection, a sedative Drug was advised by the doctor without even physically checking the patient.
Following this Tanistha’s condition worsened and she was referred to GMCH, Guwahati, on the intervening night of Aug 22-23 for further treatment. According to Tanistha’s family, doctors at GMCH informed that the injection and saline had caused infection at her brain and this was a result of wrong medication.
Interestingly, Tanistha, who was admitted to the COVID ward in Nalbari Civil hospital without conducting any COVID -19 test, was refused to be admitted in GMCH’s COVID -19 wards’ ICU citing lack of proper COVID Positive Test Report. ICU or Ventilation support was not provided to her.
“We were made to wait for more than 50 minutes in the emergency ward of GMC before admitting the patient,” the family said.
The family also alleged that she was also denied normal ICU too as the doctor on duty said that she will be shifted to ICU only after the COVID test.
The family requested the doctors and the nurse to shift her to ICU, but their requests were denied. According to uncle Chandan Bezboruah, “The nurses choose to sleep on duty. I had to go and wake them up, especially the lady nurse on duty to see our 4 years baby girl.”
“Instead of providing treatment, the nurse asked us to pray to God,” he added.
Sadly, after being deprived of proper treatment and medical negligence, Tansitha Kashyap expired at 6 AM on the morning of Aug 23. Tansitha’s COVID test was scheduled after 10 am on the same day.
The family of the deceased has filed an FIR against the Dr. Rakesh Jain in Nalbari Police Station under section 304 (A).
This sad tragedy shows the shallow nature of the Health Department. At a time when the health department is gaining heaps of praises for its efficient handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, the tragic incident shows the dark side of the department which usually goes unnoticed and unreported.
According to a notification issued by the Principal Secretary of the state in August, Government doctors were barred from practicing in the private chambers for the two months. In spite of that Dr. Rakesh Jain was still practicing in his private chamber paying no heed to the notification while the district administration was unaware of it.
Deputy Commissioner of Nalbari, Purabi Konwar, informed Headline8 that the Joint Director of the health department of Nalbari has been directed to conduct an investigation in the matter.
Speaking exclusively to Headline8, Joint Director Dr. Umesh Phangcho, denied the allegations regarding the lack of PPE kits and manpower in Nalbari Civil Hospital. He also said, “I condemn the actions of Dr. Rakesh Jain. Strict action will be taken against him.”
“I was not aware that Hospital Authorities had admitted Tanistha in the COVID isolation ward without conducting a COVID test. I got to know of this much later. An investigation will take place in this regard and strict actions will be taken against those responsible.” Dr. Umesh added.
The station in-charge of Nalbari Police Station, Tapan Kalita, said, “We are investigating the matter at the highest level. The investigation team is investigating all aspects including the doctor’s chamber, nursing home, and the hospital where she was admitted including the doctors present at the time of the incident.”
The incident shows the incompetency, the lack of interdepartmental coordination within the Health Department of Assam.
Some major question arises out of the tragedy: Why was Tanistha admitted to the COVID-19 isolation ward without proper testing? Why was the Joint Director not aware of it? How could a government doctor practice in a private chamber right under the nose of the District Health Administration? Are the diseases other than COVID-19 no longer a priority in the eyes of the health department? Doctors or the administration, who would be accountable for the tragedy?
(All the photos of the deceased are used on the request of the bereaved family)