Patient chokes to death as ambulance driver replaces oxygen cylinder

Rajan (left) was rushed to the taluk hospital at Thiruvalla after developing breathing difficulties in the wee hours of Monday. Photo: Screengrab/MMTV

Thiruvalla: A 67-year-old patient who was being shifted to another hospital died for want of oxygen in an ambulance on Monday.

The ambulance driver has been blamed for the unfortunate death as the bereaved claimed he replaced a full oxygen cylinder with a near-empty one.

The deceased has been identified as Venpala native Rajan.

Rajan was rushed to the taluk hospital at Thiruvalla after developing breathing difficulties in the wee hours of Monday.

Here, after a checkup, the doctors referred Rajan to Alappuzha Medical College Hospital for advanced treatment.

Though the hospital staff had supplied an oxygen cylinder for the 45-minutes-long journey, Rajan's family allege that it was replaced with another.

According to them, the ambulance driver, with assistance from an unnamed person, replaced the oxygen cylinder supplied by the hospital with one that they were carrying.

This, they say, lasted for only 3 kilometres of the 30-km-long journey to Vanadanam where the Alappuzha Medical College Hospital is located.

Rajan told his Girish that he was not getting any oxygen. Despite relaying this to the driver, the family allege that the driver took no heed. 

"He only suggested that we remove the mask, let more air in," Girish said.

Midway into the journey, when it seemed that Rajan's condition was getting worse, Girish shouted at the driver to stop at any nearby hospital.

"We had neared Thakazhi then. There was a hospital nearby, but the driver did not stop. He ignored our pleas," Girish alleged.

The ambulance had in fact crossed two hospitals on the way but stopped at neither.

When they finally reached Alappuzha Medical College, the doctors pronounced Rajan dead.

"The doctors also confirmed that my father [Rajan] had died for want of oxygen. It's even in the report," Girish said.

"When the driver learned that my father [Rajan] had died, he fled the scene. He didn't wait around to get the money. He simply disappeared," Girish alleged.

What further complicates the matter is that Rajan and his family had to make the 50-minutes-long journey without any hospital staff accompanying them.

"Had there been anyone with us, things would have been different. It was just the driver alone, and he paid our concerns no heed," Girish said.

Shocker days after Veena's raid

The incident comes just days after Health Minister Veena George conducted a lightning raid at the Thiruvalla taluk hospital over allegations that there were serious lapses in the management.

George had then rapped the hospital authorities for a slew of problems she identified: long waiting queues, only two functioning operating theatres, and disorder at the blood bank.

Doctors who had signed the register were not to be found on the hospital premises. George also learned from the patients that not even necessary medicines were available at the hospital.

Following the complaints, the minister expressed her ire to the hospital superintendent and issued an emergency order transferring the latter.

Earlier, the local MLA too had rapped the hospital for its disorderly operations. When it appeared that no improvements were made, the Minister was roped in.

But if the latest incident is any indicator, it seems no progress has been made.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.