Covid victim’s body sent to unclaimed section at Mumbai hospital: Kin

Written by Laxman Singh , Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published: May 31, 2020 10:59:03 am

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 The deceased, Madhukar Pawar, lived in Worli BDD Chawl number 4 and was admitted to NSCI facility on May 23 after his Covid-19 test results came positive.

The family of a 68-year-old coronavirus victim has alleged negligence against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run Covid Care Centre at National Sports Club of India (NSCI dome), Worli. The family alleged that after he died, the body was sent to the unclaimed bodies section at BYL Nair Hospital without the family being informed of his death.

The family alleged that doctors at NSCI facility did not inform them about the death on May 28 despite repeated inquiries. The deceased, Madhukar Pawar, lived in Worli BDD Chawl number 4 and was admitted to NSCI facility on May 23 after his Covid-19 test results came positive. He was asymptomatic, had blood pressure and heart issues.

Speaking to The Indian Express, his nephew Amol Pawar said that he sounded fine when he spoke to one of his relatives over phone on May 28 morning. As it was a Covid centre, nobody was allowed to meet him and the family was in contact with him over phone.

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“Around 11 am, my cousin called him but the phone was switched off. He informed me and then we called him repeatedly. After we were not able to connect, we visited the centre but were turned away at the gate. We were told we cannot go inside as Covid-19 patients are there,” Amol said.

The family managed to get the phone number of the doctor inside the centre. “Around 4.30 pm, my cousin called him and asked about uncle. The doctor said his health was not good and they had moved him to Nair Hospital. We were told this nearly six hours after we had made the first call to the centre,” Amol said.

Subsequently, Madhukar’s both sons Ajit and Rahul along with Amol visited Nair hospital where the administration said there was no patient by that name admitted there. “However, they started searching in various wards. By chance, they found his uncovered body lying in the hospital’s unclaimed bodies section,” Amol said. When Madhukar’s son questioned Nair Hospital staff, he was told that the body was brought to their premises in an ambulance and had no papers on him. “The man in charge of Nair Hospital’s casualty section said that an ambulance from NSCI had brought him there in the morning and the hospital staff were not aware of his name. The body was also notified as being unclaimed as no transfer papers were given to Nair Hospital,” Amol said.

The family subsequently made a claim on the body and requested the hospital to cover it. With no papers the family also had to run around to complete the legal formalities before they were handed the body. “My uncle lost his life due to negligence of NSCI staff. My question is, why didn’t they inform family members? He was healthy in the morning and was talking to us. If they had moved him to Nair Hospital for treatment then why nobody was told about this even though the phone numbers of his sons were with NSCI. We had to run pillar to post to know his whereabouts,” he said.

“We are getting hundreds of patients. When we get a patient referred, we do not get all details of the family. In this particular case I will have to look into records and find out what happened,” said Dr Mohan Joshi, dean, Nair hospital. Ward officer Sharad Ughade said the victim was admitted on May 23 with hypertension and diabetes as co-morbidity. His ECG was normal and an x-ray revealed his lungs’ lower lobe were infected with pneumonia. “He was only on Azithromycin and blood thinners as per protocol,” said Ughade, adding that every day his condition was monitored and he did not require oxygen support.

On May 28 morning, his oxygen levels were 99, in normal range.

“Around 10.30 am he suddenly collapsed and was immediately resuscitated and intubated and shifted to Nair hospital with an Intern accompanying him in the ambulance. He was handed over to the chief medical officer on duty,” Ughade said.

Udhade refuted claims that the family was not informed, he said the doctor informed relative Milind Gaikwad that the patient was being shifted to Nair hospital. “He later spoke with Ajit, his son, once the number was traced and informed him of the same,” Ughade said.

NSCI incharge doctor Neeta Varty did not reply to multiple calls and messages.

Ajit said they will file a complaint in police against the NSCI facility.

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