Retired doctor loses battle to coronavirus after allegedly being denied treatment at Karachi hospitals

A retired doctor, who had tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago, died on Sunday morning after he was allegedly denied treatment at various public and private hospitals in Karachi, The News reported.


“He was dying due to shortness of breath after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, but no hospital admitted him,” the wife of Dr Furqan-ul-Haq, a retired practitioner of the Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases (KIHD), told media on Sunday.

“He was taken to the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation [SIUT], and a private hospital in Azizabad where he used to work, but all of them said they had no beds available. He asked me to take him back home, where he passed away today,” she said.

‘Turned away by three hospitals’

Dr Haq, the cardiologist who had recently retired from the KIHD and had also been associated with two private health facilities, had tested positive for COVID-19 along with his wife last week.

“He was in self-isolation at our residence in Gulshan-e-Iqbal where his condition deteriorated last night,” said the wife. “So he asked me to take him to any specialised hospital, but due to the unavailability of beds, he was turned away by three hospitals,” she said.

The death of Dr Haq due to the unavailability of beds at the intensive care units of any health facility in Karachi, as reported by his wife, led to outrage on social media and doctors expressed shock at the treatment meted out to their former colleague.

‘Died in front of my eyes’

The wife of the deceased Dr Haq said the Aman Ambulance service initially refused to take the critically sick doctor to any health facility without the assurance of the availability of a bed for treatment.

She said that when the people from the ambulance service arrived, they took him from one hospital to the other until, in the end, he was dropped back home where he died. “He died at our residence in front of my eyes.”

An official of the Sindh Rescue and Medical Services said the doctor was taken to the SIUT on Sunday at around 10am, but the facility refused to admit him because he did not have his COVID-19 certificate with him.

“The patient was brought back to his residence in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, from where he was taken to the Trimax Hospital, which refused to admit him. He was an employee of that health facility but they refused to treat him, after which he returned home,” the official added.

Officials of the SIUT, the Indus Hospital and the Ojha Campus (Dow University of Health Sciences) said they were under pressure due to the increasing number of COVID-19 patients, but in cases of extreme emergencies, they could admit any serious patient, especially a doctor who required critical care.

20 beds for virus patients at Indus Hospital

“We have 20 beds in the intensive care unit, of which 10 have ventilators,” said an official of the Indus Hospital. “These beds remain occupied these days, and whenever any bed is vacated, there are more patients waiting in the emergency.”

Sindh Health Department officials could not be approached despite repeated attempts to ascertain their version on the availability of beds in the intensive care units at various hospitals of the city.

The Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, the SIUT, the Ojha Campus, the Indus Hospital and the Aga Khan University Hospital are currently treating COVID-19 patients in the city.


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