RAWALPINDI: Some 15 men burst into Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) on Sunday and began harassing staff and breaking equipment following the death of a relative in the hospital.
The bereft but infuriated relatives smashed window panes, broke health apparatus, and manhandled the receptionist in the hospital’s emergency department. They also took away the department’s entry register, a wheelchair and a stretcher.
A doctor requesting anonymity said that around 15 men entered the hospital’s emergency department after a patient, Muhammad Asif, 30, died of a ruptured appendix. They began vandalising the section and chased doctors and paramedic staff, who narrowly escaped the attack.
BBH Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Asif Qadir Mir said the patient was brought to the hospital late at night with severe abdominal pain, suggesting that his appendix had ruptured. He said that doctors tried to stabilise the patient’s condition, but he died before he could be operated upon. He assured that there was no negligence on the part of doctors.
Dr Mir said that the doctors informed the attendants that their patient had died despite attempts to stabilise his condition. The attendants took away the body quietly, but after some time over a dozen men came and attacked the emergency department, he added.
The MS said that an inquiry team headed by a senior doctor has been constituted to determine if the patient’s death was due to the negligence of the doctors on duty. He said if any doctor is found guilty they will be taken to task.
Waris Khan Police Sub-Inspector Muhammad Mushtaq confirmed that a case had been registered on the complaint of the BBH guard master against unidentified persons for vandalising the department, manhandling staff and harassing doctors.
Young Doctors Association (YDA) Head Dr Umer Saeed condemned the incident and urged on the authorities to ensure the safety of doctors in public hospitals. “Doctors are already demoralised by a similar incident that occurred at Holy Family Hospital,” said Saeed, adding that this attack shows that no concrete measures have been taken to ensure their safety.
“Rowdy attendants always blame the doctors for the unfortunate deaths of patients, but the fact is that no doctor would deliberately avoid his patients.”
He also said that a proper mechanism of departmental and medical inquiries should be worked out to probe deaths allegedly caused by the negligence of the doctors.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.