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Medical war fells patients

New Delhi, July 6: Patients are becoming the most visible casualty of the tug-of-war between health minister Anbumani Ramadoss and P. Venugopal, the director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) marked out for dismissal.

Two more patients died today and hundreds were turned away at the gates of some of the most renowned hospitals in the capital as the strike against the unceremonious ouster order spread. The number of such deaths since the confrontation spun out of control yesterday now totals three.

Two of the patients who died could not get emergency aid at AIIMS, where resident doctors and faculty members are on strike.

Santosh, 48, came to AIIMS last night, coughing blood. Before the labourer’s wife Sunita could explain his condition to a doctor outside the emergency wards, she was told to go elsewhere.

Across the road, the long line outside the overflowing Safdarjung Hospital proved lethal, Santosh passing away around dawn. “I wish I could have done something,” said Ram Choudhary, a security guard at AIIMS, when Sunita had brought her husband.

Sarvesh Kumar’s fate was not much different. The 35-year-old had managed to reach the emergency ward at AIIMS yesterday but he had to leave once the strike gathered ground. He, too, died outside Safdarjung last night.

Doctors at three other prominent hospitals ' Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital and University College of Medical Sciences ' today joined the strike.

With AIIMS out of bounds, the family of Raghubir Singh, a 27-year-old rickshaw-puller, rushed him to the Lok Nayak hospital when he started suffering from “heart palpitations”. “He was having severe breathlessness. We were told to go to Safdarjung. He died on the way,” his wife Laxmi said.

Over a thousand patients are believed to have been directly denied emergency care because of today’s strike in the four hospitals.

Resident doctors denied responsibility for the deaths. “They may just be claiming they came here,” said Harsh Kumar of the Resident Doctors Association, AIIMS.

Demanding the reinstatement of Venugopal and the resignation of Ramadoss, four resident doctors today went on a “fast unto death”.

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