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Nurse died in spite of saviour rule

- Glare on hospital role in Salt Lake

Uma’s colleagues watch her body being taken from the hospital in Salt Lake on Friday. As the hearse left, the nurses and Group D staff formed a human chain along both flanks of its path to the gate. Picture by Mayukh Sengupta

Calcutta, Aug. 11: The Employees' State Insurance policy says a patient availing the scheme should be provided immediate emergency treatment at the nearest healthcare facility, a norm AMRI Salt Lake allegedly ignored when one of its nurses took ill and died on Thursday.

Colleagues of Uma Xess, a 26-year-old nurse from Odisha, have alleged that she died without receiving the necessary treatment hours after complaining of severe headache around 2am on Thursday.

Uma, who was working night shift, had come down to the emergency ward and was given some medicines along with advice for a CT scan.

But according to her colleagues, Uma's nursing superintendent asked her to visit an ESI hospital later in the day for the CT scan, saying that was where she was entitled to be treated under the AMRI hospital's employee health scheme.

But a circular issued by ESI on September 13, 2010, says: "In case of emergency, the employee/ dependent may be directly taken to any of the nearby hospital(s) available under the ESIC networkie-up hospital so as to avail cashless, hassle-free health services from the hospital."

It adds: "In case no such hospital is available, the employee/dependant may take treatment from any of the government/private hospital(s) nearby and the bill paid by him/her may be reimbursed."

AMRI Salt Lake has an agreement with the ESI to treat patients under its scheme. This means that any patient with ESI documents can receive cashless treatment there, with the hospital being later reimbursed by the ESI. AMRI has brought its employees under the scheme.

Sources in the hospital management today said the nursing superintendent had not directed Uma to another hospital: she had only said the CT scan must wait till Uma had brought her ESI scheme documents from home and deposited them with the AMRI hospital's ESI desk.

However, the ESI's rules say that treatment in an emergency case must start immediately whether or not the patient is able to furnish her documents straightaway.

Uma had gone to the emergency ward around 2.30am and died some five hours later, shortly after being taken to the intensive cardiac care unit. Her colleagues alleged that no diagnostic investigations had been done on her.

Uma had lost her father three months ago and was the sole earning member of her family. Her younger brother Umesh, uncle and friends arrived in Calcutta last night to take her body home to Sundergarh, 600km away.

Umesh, 21, said he didn't know how to break the news to their mother, who hasn't been told yet. "She (Uma) was paying my course fees," Umesh, who is doing a vocational course from an industrial training institute in Odisha, said.

Hospital authorities have suspended Tulika Roy, the nursing superintendent, and Anindya Sarkar, the emergency medical officer who had examined Uma.

"We have a clear policy that states all employees would get treatment in emergency cases irrespective of whether they have the ESI document at that time," Rupak Barua, group CEO, AMRI, said.

"We are probing how this happened. Strong action will be taken if any lapse is found."

Uma's colleagues and Group D staff staged an agitation after her death and roughed up a hospital official. Many of them were in tears today as her body was wheeled out of the mortuary.

As the hearse left the hospital, the nurses and Group D staff formed a human chain along both flanks of its path to the gate.


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