Ruby General Hospital allegedly turned away a mishap victim, who died on the way to National Medical College and Hospital, on Thursday night. A traffic sergeant had taken the man to Ruby in a taxi.
R.P. Singh, in his late 40s, lay bleeding on the EM Bypass, near Science City, around 8.15pm, said sergeant Pratap Roy Chowdhury. The south-east traffic guard officer reached the private hospital near Kasba Gol Park with Singh about 15 minutes later.
The hospital authorities claimed that the mishap victim was brought to the hospital in an “inhuman manner” — in the boot of the taxi — and Roy Chowdhury had requested them to “keep him in the morgue”.
The sergeant asserted that the man was on the rear seat of the taxi, and not in the boot.
“The man was hit by an unidentified vehicle. I had no idea whether he was alive or dead. I stopped a taxi and went straight to the hospital. I requested the doctors to examine the patient. They came out and on seeing the condition of the man, told me that they would not admit him in the emergency wing,” said Roy Chowdhury.
No hospital or doctor can turn away a patient in an emergency, according to a Supreme Court directive. The state Clinical Establishment Act, too, makes it mandatory for hospitals to treat emergency patients.
A Ruby official claimed that the patient was dead by the time he was brought to the hospital. “Medical officer Ranjit Roy, of the Intensive Therapy Unit, examined the patient in the boot. There was no pulse or respiration or heart beat. All the signs showed that he was dead, so we asked the sergeant to take him to a government hospital or the police morgue,” he said.
Roy Chowdhury contacted assistant sub-inspector S. Halder of Tiljala police station, who rushed to Ruby. The two left for National Medical College and Hospital with Singh shortly after 9pm. They reached around 9.30pm. The doctors declared Singh brought dead.
Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra asserted that a hospital cannot refuse an emergency patient. “If we receive a complaint, there will be an inquiry.”
When asked if Singh was taken to Ruby in the boot of a taxi, joint commissioner (traffic) Ranveer Kumar said: “I will look into the allegation. If it is found correct, action will be taken against the officer.”
Traffic police officers rubbished the claim of the hospital authorities. “Why would a sergeant look for a morgue without finding out whether the man was dead or alive' If the officer, indeed, knew that the man was dead, he would have taken him to the morgue of a government hospital instead of rushing him to a private hospital,” stated a senior traffic police officer.
On January 14, 2001, Ruby hospital had refused to admit Sumanta Mukherjee, a second-year B.Tech student who was hit by a bus on the Bypass. The people who had taken the 20-year-old to Ruby could not arrange for Rs 15,000 that the hospital officials had asked for to admit Sumanta to the neurology ward.
The student was released from Ruby after first-aid, his father had said. Sumanta died on the way to Medical College and Hospital.
Member of Parliament Rupchand Pal had lodged a complaint against the hospital after the incident. It prompted the government to freeze the hospital’s licence in 2003. The licence was renewed later.