Dying Man Not an Emergency for Doctors in Hangu

Apathy kills more recklessly than anything, and this happened in Hangu, Pakistan, last week, where doctors at the town’s government hospital didn’t pay any heed to the request of a critically ill patient for medical aid. Now the bereaved family wants those responsible for the death to be charged with murder.

Local newspapers reported the incident on June 21, informing that the patient, Torrub Ali, 55, was taken to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital of Hangu for medical examination and treatment. Ali was suffering from kidneys malfunction. To his and his family’s chagrin, none of the doctors on duty at the hospital would bother to even examine him. One medical officer, Dr. Nawab Hussain, was mentioned in particular by the affected family as responsible for refusing to see Ali and making excuses to shoo him away.

Given the attitude of the doctors at the hospital, the patient’s family requested the international organization Medecins Sans Frontieres—aka Doctors Without Borders—which has taken control of the hospital’s emergency department for some years. But they too refused on the basis that they don’t consider kidney failure as emergency but only cases of violent crimes (terrorism, shooting, etc.) and deadly road accidents qualify for this category of patients. Left helpless, Ali’s family requested the hospital’s Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr. Abdul Rasheed to allow them using the hospital’s ambulance to take their patient for treatment elsewhere. The MS simply rejected the request.

Torrub Ali was dying and his relatives were begging the administration and the concerned medical officers on duty for help – for doing their duty for which they get paid. But what to say of the apathy that rendered their hearts stolid and they never felt like even saying a word of kindness. In this agony, Ali lost his life to the fatal illness after two days of entreaties for medical attention at the hospital. His death symbolizes extreme apathy, neglect, and heartlessness on behalf of the doctors as well as the hospital’s administration. Even Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) despite its claim to humanitarian service worldwide had no mercy on a poor, dying man. Was it not an emergency?

Following his death, his grieving relatives demonstrated in protest outside the local press club with Ali’s corpse placed on the road to draw attention to the injustice and the failure of humanity in white coats. The press reported the tragedy in papers, following which the police registered a criminal complaint against the hospital’s MS Dr. Abdul Rasheed and the doctor named Nawab Hussain.  Ali’s family has held these two persons responsible for what they call the murder of their ill relative. The police have promised an investigation into the matter.

The big question mark here is not on an individual or an organization, but on the human heart that once was able to feel the pain of others and act to relieve it. Whatever happened to humanity! In a country where doctors don’t give a damn about life while pressuring by all means for a rise in pay and benefits, maybe emergency has another meaning – one that no sane person wants to hear.

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


Comments

  1. Medecins Sans Frontieres - Communication Officer (Pakistan) says

    Concerning some contents in above article, we would like to make several comments:
    1) Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been supporting the emergency room of the Hangu Tehsil Headquarter Hospital since May 2010. We support the emergency room on providing medical care to patients with trauma or acute medical problems. Chronic diseases cases, which do not fall into admission criteria of the emergency room, are handled by other departments in the hospital which are run by the Department of Health.
    2) According to our medical record and investigation, the patient (mentioned in the article) who has chronic disease came was examined at the triage area for another acute medical problem, when he first arrived at the emergency room. His acute medical condition was treated accordingly. After receiving appropriate medical care and check-up for his acute medical problem, he was discharged from the emergency room.
    3) All the medical care provided by MSF is free of charge.
    4) On the following day, the patient’s family was seeking an ambulance car to transport him to Peshawar for the treatment of his chronic disease. However, MSF exclusively provides ambulances for patients who are admitted in the emergency room and in need for acute care in other specialized medical facilities. In view of this, our staff referred the request immediately to the hospital authority who is responsible for arranging ambulance for non-emergency room patients.
    5) As a medical humanitarian association working in over 60 countries, MSF is committed to provide life-saving and emergency medical assistance to people in need. We recognize, however, our limited capacity and the inherent limits that exist in delivering aid. So MSF does not, and cannot intervene in all medical humanitarian crisis. And MSF does not aim to replace the long term role of local health authorities on provision of medical care.
    6) Last but not least, MSF wishes to express its deepest sympathies to the family for their lost.

  2. Medecins Sans Frontieres - Communication Officer (Pakistan) says

    sorry it seems the previous message is not shown properly. Hope this time it works.

    Concerning some contents in above article, we would like to make several comments:
    1) Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been supporting the emergency room of the Hangu Tehsil Headquarter Hospital since May 2010.
    We support the emergency room on providing medical care to patients with trauma or acute medical problems.
    Chronic diseases cases, which do not fall into admission criteria of the emergency room, are handled by other departments in the hospital which are run by the Department of Health.
    2) According to our medical record and investigation, the patient (mentioned in the article) who has chronic disease came was examined at the triage area for another acute medical problem, when he first arrived at the emergency room.
    His acute medical condition was treated accordingly. After receiving appropriate medical care and check-up for his acute medical problem, he was discharged from the emergency room.
    3) All the medical care provided by MSF is free of charge.
    4) On the following day, the patient’s family was seeking an ambulance car to transport him to Peshawar for the treatment of his chronic disease.
    However, MSF exclusively provides ambulances for patients who are admitted in the emergency room and in need for acute care in other specialized medical facilities.
    In view of this, our staff referred the request immediately to the hospital authority who is responsible for arranging ambulance for non-emergency room patients.
    5) As a medical humanitarian association working in over 60 countries, MSF is committed to provide life-saving and emergency medical assistance to people in need.
    We recognize, however, our limited capacity and the inherent limits that exist in delivering aid. So MSF does not, and cannot intervene in all medical humanitarian crisis.
    And MSF does not aim to replace the long term role of local health authorities on provision of medical care.
    6) Last but not least, MSF wishes to express its deepest sympathies to the family for their lost.

    • Ernest Dempsey says

      Being the write of this story, I am glad to see that the MSF has responded and in good intentions and manners. Let me point to the fact first that it was me who wrote a post on the remarkable contributions of MSF in Hangu (read my post at http://greenheritagenews.com/msf-relieves-patients%E2%80%99-sufferings-in-hangu/). I am thankful to them that they came and took control of an otherwise dysfunctional emergency department at Hangu and other hard areas.
      Given the above, I adhere to my point made in the article and the response of the MSF only validates it: the patient in question was not admitted to the emergency until he could be safely transported elsewhere for treatment. For me, an emergency is an emergency whether someone is dying of a violent incident or slow poisoning, of acute condition or chronic illness, infectious or non-infectious – a dying man is a patient in need of treatment till recovery (or expiry). Period!
      So despite its good work in Hangu that has brought relief to countless patients, MSF did disappoint in this case at least. And of the local authorities, even commenting on their horror will be like a waste of time. They are simply horrible!
      I hope both the local authorities and MSF will be more responsive to the suffering of patients in future.
      In healing spirit,
      Ernest

  3. Medecins Sans Frontieres - Communication Officer (Pakistan) says

    Besides, MSF logo is copyrighted, and cannot be used without our prior permission. We hope our logo will be taken down from Borderless News and Views website as soon as possible. Thank you for your attention.

  4. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a
    sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

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