A 63 year old patient with severe fluid in both lungs, rapidly decreasing oxygen saturation (90 to 85 to 81 percent within few hours) and increasing breathing trouble was not given any treatment at Max Hospital Emergency, simply because they had no room to admit her. “Take her to another hospital” said the Max Hospital Emergency doctor and person in-charge of admitting.

My mother’s both lungs were filled with fluids. She wasn’t able to breath. Our ordinary understanding is that the fluids from her lungs needed to be drained out. We had with us two X-ray reports which clearly showed how the amount of fluid rapidly increased within 24 hours. It was so obvious that it would not be safe to take the patient home without any treatment from emergency.

What did the Emergency doctor at Max Hospital do? She told me, “No, don’t take her home, though she is not in ‘dying emergency’, her O2 stats are low though not severely low, but still she needs to be in a hospital set up. But to do the procedure we have to first admit her and we don’t have any room to admit her. So please take her to some other hospital.”

This was also the official reason given by Mr. Naresh, the person in-charge of admitting explaining why my mother wasn’t being attended in Emergency. Is this a valid medical advise? Is this even legal?

They made no registration, no paper work. They checked her vital stats but didn’t give us anything in writing. No treatment was done, no medical advise was given to us in writing. Not even oxygen was given to her even when the O2 sats were dropping below 90%. They simply didn’t touch her and said “take her to some other hospital.” And they cleverly didn’t keep any record of the fact that I ever visited the Emergency with a patient.

I suspect that this happened because we are on CGHS panel. Apparently this secret strategy is being used by many big private hospitals to avoid patients who are on government panels because the amount of profit they can make if they admit private patient is much more than what they will make if they admit a CGHS empanelled patient.

I am going to make an official complaint against this to Max Hospital. I want to mobilize other CGHS / Government empanelled patients who might have had similar experience. I hear many do.

My mother was finally admitted to Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute which is not on CGHS panel, which means we have to pay full amount for entire treatment. At the time of admitting we paid Rs.30,000 in advance. I am not sure if this is refundable. I don’t know if the actual bill would be more or less than this. My parents are the kind of people who would stand in queue for hours and jump through tiring sarkari hoops to get a Rs.600 ultrasound done for cashless. Not because they are cheap and miser, but because that’s their identity, honest sarkari austere middle class. A five star medical treatment is not what they think they ever need or even deserve.

But perhaps they both deserved it today. Mom deserved a five star comfort at a swanky super speciality hospital after the severe pain she went through all morning. But it should have been Max Hospital to be providing it for free, as my father has earned that right by giving 40 years of service to central government. Max Hospital created situation where he was denied this right.

Mother’s proper treatment is yet to begin, she has merely been admitted and given oxygen, antibiotics etc. Tomorrow they will do the procedure to drain fluid, then they’ll investigate why there was so much fluid in the lungs. We will have to soon shift her to a government hospital or some other facility which would give cashless treatment to CGHS empanelled patients.

Earlier in the day I took her to Safdarjung Hospital which was a different hell altogether. Will write about it another day.