Doctors at Hyderabad’s Main Covid Hospital Assaulted. Their Fault? They Declared a Patient Dead


Doctors at Hyderabad’s Main Covid Hospital Assaulted. Their Fault? They Declared a Patient Dead

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad is the nodal hospital for Covid-19 cases in Telangana. But since Tuesday, it has also been the site of a protest being staged by junior doctors, after reports emerged of the kin of a deceased Covid-19 patient allegedly assaulting the doctors.

On Tuesday evening, a 55-year-old patient who had tested positive for coronavirus collapsed after leaving his bed to go to the toilet against doctors’ orders, and the hospital staff were unable to resuscitate him. The deceased’s son and brother-in-law then allegedly attacked the doctors and hospital staff with an iron rod, and police only arrived to defuse the situation after 20 minutes. This has led to the junior doctors of the hospital going on strike, agitating not only for better security, but also better all-round support from the government, including personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, N95 masks, and decentralisation of Gandhi Hospital.

After the alleged attack, the doctors staged a sit-in on the road outside Gandhi Hospital, which went through Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday morning. Then, they resumed their protest on Wednesday, blocking the road outside the hospital.

However, Hyderabad’s North Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police Kalmeshwar Shingenavar told The Indian Express there was no physical assault resulting in injuries to the doctors. Despite these different versions of events, the doctors and staff at the hospital have felt threatened enough to stage a massive protest, with approximately 300 people taking part in the sit-in.

The two accused of attacking the doctors have been arrested, and charged under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as the Epidemic Diseases Act. Despite this breakdown of order at Gandhi Hospital, the state health minister has urged the doctors to withdraw their protest and meet him at his office. Days before the protest occurred, the state government had stated that Gandhi Hospital was well-equipped to handle the pandemic. However, the scenes and demands from the protest seem to contradict that claim.

It’s shameful that even in the midst of a pandemic, there are patients’ kin who seem to hold the doctors personally responsible for any deterioration in a patient’s health. Like one of the placards being held by the doctors outside Gandhi Hospital declared, doctors are “Here to Serve, Not Suffer”.