Posted on 12 March 2011.
Author : Shazia Yousuf
From : Karachi
Occupation : Software Engineer
It has nearly been one year since my father passed away in the emergency room of a local hospital.
He was a heart patient but he managed his health well. The night before his demise, he restless and complained of a slight pain in his chest. He felt better in the morning, but by the afternoon his condition had deteriorated. My sisters rushed him to a well known hospital in Defence Phase I, Karachi which boasts its expertise in health care, the nearest hospital at the time.
When I reached the hospital’s emergency room. There were no nurses or doctors around. There was one person wearing a tie and starched shirt strolling around, who looked like an HR manager of a multinational. Upon inquiry, he said that a doctor was on his way. My father was given an oxygen mask to ease his breathing. The hospital staff prescribed medicine which my sister rushed to get from the hospital’s pharmacy.
Meanwhile, the hospital monitor said my father’s oxygen saturation was gradually improving but he kept saying that he was unable to breathe.
As we stood around his bed, attending to him in the “emergency” room he insisted that his condition was worse than it was at home. We tried to comfort him by helping him sit up, then lie down again but his restlessness increased with the passage of time.
The well-dressed man (I still don’t know his designation) assured us that a specialist was on duty and was on his way. But we never got to see that doctor. The mystery man started inquiring about my father’s medical history. We had already handed him the file of his medical records that we had brought, and since this person was not a doctor, it was evident that he could not understand the file. Any sane medical professional in the emergency section of a hospital would have taken ECGs and performed relevant tests to evaluate a heart patient’s condition.
We could see that the medicine in the nebuliser had finished, and pointed it out to the people on duty. But it seemed that a patient lying in the emergency ward was of no importance, and his pain was no big deal. Before our eyes the oxygen saturation dropped drastically. We shouted and yelled out to the staff who realised what was happening.
We suddenly saw our father collapse.
Now, there was an increase in the staff’s activity. They rushed him to the ICU, only to inform us after a while that he had expired due to a cardiac arrest. In the short span of under 30 minutes, our father passed away and we could do nothing to save him.
But the fact is that I had felt my father’s cold hands when he was being rushed to the ICU. It was then that I realised there was no pulse and no sign of life in his eyes, and I had surrendered. I knew the staff were all lying. I was numb. I accepted this as Allah’s will. What else could I have done?
The episode still haunts me.
One question keeps bothering me: is there anything that I could have done?
Leaving my father at the mercy of the inefficient, unprofessional emergency staffers of a big, well-constructed hospital was the biggest mistake of my life. It makes me wonder if there is any organisation of qualified medical experts who regulate the functioning of hospitals. Is there anything such as a license?
I had been reluctant about sharing this tragic experience, because of the devastation I felt and because I thought it would amount to nothing.
But then I felt that I must.
I have written a letter to the hospital management but have received no response. In any case, nothing can undo our loss.
It is unfortunate that people suffer daily at the hands of mismanagement. Can we do anything about it? Probably not, I am afraid I am as helpless as I was when we arrived at the hospital.