A three-year-old boy from Kadungalloor in Aluva died after he swallowed a coin. What has, however, shocked the state is that the family has alleged that the child was taken to three government hospitals but was not given any treatment. The child, named Prithviraj, swallowed the coin on Saturday morning and was first rushed to the Aluva taluk hospital, but the hospital directed them to the Ernakulam General hospital as they did not have a pediatric surgeon.
The parents allege that the Ernakulam General hospital too told them that the child just needs to eat bananas and the coin will be discharged through the excreta. Finally, the child’s parents – Nandini and Raja – rushed him to the Alappuzha Medical College which is around 70 km away. Here, the parents were informed that there was nothing to worry and a surgery can be considered after three days. This hospital too, the parents allege, advised them to feed him bananas. After going back home, Prithviraj’s condition worsened by the evening and he passed away on Sunday morning.
“When we brought him to the Aluva hospital, they said it will be fine. They said that there was no pediatrician and told us to take him to Ernakulam. The Ernakulam General hospital also said there was no pediatrician but they asked us to give bananas and rice so that the coin would discharge by itself. They told us to take him to the Alappuzha Medical College. They advised the same and didn’t admit him. But that night he had some uneasiness. Next day he did not get up,” the child's mother told the media.
Allegations have been levelled against all the three hospitals that they were not keen to admit the child as he was living in a containment zone. Aluva Congress MLA Anwar Sadath too has alleged that most hospitals were wary of admitting patients from containment zones.
The Aluva taluk hospital superintendent told the media that they took an X-ray and found the coin inside the child. “We’re a referral hospital as we don’t have pediatric surgery. We told the parents to take the child to the Ernakulam General hospital,” the superintendent said.
However, the family alleged that none of these hospitals told them that swallowing a coin could be fatal but simply told them to feed him bananas and rice.
An auto driver who saw the mother at the Aluva hospital said that she had been crying as the doctors asked her to go to another hospital.
“They boarded my auto rickshaw from the Aluva hospital. Since the mother was crying I asked her what happened. She said the child had swallowed a coin. Then I took them to the Ernakulam General hospital. There also they said the same, eat bananas and another X-ray can be done. I bought him some bananas and water. He was perfectly all right then. I was holding him. From there they sent them to Alappuzha in an ambulance as this hospital didn’t have a pediatric surgeon,” Babu, the auto driver, said. Babu, however, added that the Ernakulam general hospital authorities were co-operative and arranged an ambulance when they were informed that the parents were not financially well off.
Alappuzha Medical College Superintendent Dr RV Ramlal told TNM that they had taken X-rays. "The coin was found in his intestine. So as per medical procedure and as recommended by experts, we never suggest for a surgery immediately. Only if the coin is stuck in the respiratory area would we go for such emergency procedures. Since it was lodged in the stomach we recommended that they feed bananas and water so that the stool will be loosened. That is what should be done. Surgery is not the procedure. In this case we have to examine what happened later (after the child went home). Only then can we tell what was the reason for death."
The government has ordered a probe into the incident. A post mortem will be done on the child’s body. “After COVID-19, hospitals deny treatment for other ailments. We lost the child because he was denied treatment on time. The government has given clear instructions that treatment should be given to all other patients. But hospitals are not following the government’s orders,” MLA Anwar Sadath told the media.
Following media reports, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission has asked the superintendents of the three hospitals to submit an inquiry report in the matter within three weeks.
Watch what the mother said: