The family of the deceased 24-year-old has alleged medical negligence after doctors at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital transferred the deceased, who was critically injured in a road accident and had tested positive for the coronavirus, to the Chest Diseases Hospital (CDH), designated for the treatment of COVID-19.
The deceased, Abrar Reyaz Sofi, suffered severe injury to his head in a road accident – when a truck collided with the vehicle he was traveling in – on 27 June in Pulwama district’s Pampore, and died at the CDH three days later on 30 June. In between, he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Zuhaib Manzoor, a cousin who attended to Mr. Sofi at the hospital said that the family was informed about this “over the phone and they didn’t receive any confirmation on their registered phone number”. Authorities testing individuals for COVID-19 also register their mobile numbers to send SMS confirmation of test results. The family also alleged that serial numbers on the medical record and his COVID-19 test did not match.
Shortly after this, doctors at SMHS shifted Mr Sofi to the CDH. “We requested doctors to not shift him to CD hospital as there is no treatment available for patients [with critical head injuries],” said Mr. Manzoor, adding that Mr. Sofi should have been referred to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) instead. “Nobody listened to us and [Mr. Sofi] was shifted to CD hospital, anyway. We were told that there wasn’t any ventilator available at SKIMS.”
Admitting that Mr. Sofi was not to be transferred to the CDH, Saima Rashid, principal Government Medical College, said that the “attendants of other patients in the ward created a problem” – demanding that Mr. Sofi be shifted to SKIMS – even though SMHS also has a facility for COVID-19 suspects. “We didn’t want to shift a neurosurgical patient to CD hospital but a ventilator wasn’t available [at SKIMS],” she said.
According to Dr. Rashid, Mr. Sofi “had a massive head injury wherein he had a hemorrhage, contusion of the brain and subdural hematoma with diffuse axonal injury” and that his condition was stage 4 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. As such, Dr. Rashid said, he “couldn’t have withstood any surgical procedure, and so he was put on a ventilator”.
Critical care was provided at the CDH and Mr. Sofi did not require any “surgical intervention”, said Dr. Rashid. “They had all the critical care facilities available.”
Mr. Reyaz was transported in a critical care ambulance at around 8:45 pm to the CDH, where Mr. Sofi was kept in an Intensive Care Unit with a COVID-19 positive patient. “CD hospital officials told us that the Covid-19 test results, declaring him positive didn’t match with MRD number [unique number for patient records] tagged with [Mr. Sofi’s] case from SMHS,” said Mr. Manzoor.
He further added that “there was an error in the report so we requested for his resampling”. “Next day, we requested Dr. Naveed Nazir to consider retesting him and to isolate him till we get the results but he told us that he can’t do it as it was against the protocols,” he said, saying that the doctor “ignored our appeal”.
On June 30, around 2:00 pm, Mr. Reyaz’s oxygen rate was slowing down. “I called the technician who was present there and I was told that Abrar was given adrenaline shots but within a few minutes he breathed his last,” he said, adding that the other patient died at the same time “due to the non-availability of oxygen supply.”
According to Mr. Manzoor, Dr. Nazir told them that “They now can retest [Mr Sofi] for COVID-19 for the family’s satisfaction but the family has refused, saying it doesn’t matter anymore”. Dr. Naveed Nazir, head of department at the CDH, was not available for clarifications.
Mr. Sofi and his father, Reyaz Ahmad Sofi, were brought to the SMHS hospital in a critical condition but the driver of the vehicle, Mr. Sofi’s uncle, Syed Wasiq Peerzada, died on the way. While Mr. Sofi, owing to his injuries, was put on a ventilator, his father, who suffered spinal cord injury and multiple fractures, was admitted in a separate ward. While Mr. Sofi has died, his father is still battling for his life in SMHS.