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Delhi hospitals are told not to turn away patients with suspected dengue fever

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4994 (Published 17 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4994
  1. Vidya Krishnan
  1. 1New Delhi

A 3 year old girl’s death on 16 September has taken the death toll from dengue viral fever in the current outbreak in India to 15, while the number of cases reported in the capital has risen to nearly 2000.1

While private and government hospitals struggle to cope with the number of patients, the government of the national capital territory has taken a series of measures to ensure that patients get appropriate medical attention.

Delhi’s health minister, Satyendra Jain, has directed private hospitals and state run hospitals to increase their bed capacity by a total of 1000 by Sunday. Leave for all doctors and paramedical staff has been cancelled, and schools have been told to ensure that children come to school dressed in full sleeved clothes for the next month.

“With hospitals struggling to cope, most dengue patients are sharing beds in the government hospitals. In some cases, patients are being treated on the floor, because even after putting 2-3 patients on a single bed, we are out of space to accommodate these patients,” said a doctor at Safdarjung Hospital on the condition of anonymity.

On 17 September the Delhi High Court asked the national government, the state government, and civic bodies to file reports on action they had taken. The court has asked municipal agencies to file an affidavit before 24 September.

The court intervened after the death of 7 year old boy Avinash Rout, who had been denied admission to five private hospitals in the city. The tragedy was compounded by Avinash’s distraught parents committing suicide by jumping from the top floor of their apartment block. A day later another boy died, 6 year old Aman Sharma, and again the family alleged that his condition deteriorated because private hospitals in the city kept turning them away. The Delhi government has ordered an inquiry into both deaths.

Since then the Delhi government has warned private hospitals that they could lose their licence for turning patients away. Jain said, “We understand that most hospitals are overburdened with Dengue patients. Even so, they cannot be turning patients away. [If] hospitals do not have beds they must stabilise the patients before referring [them] to another hospital.”

The Delhi government has also put a cap on the rates being charged by hospitals and on pathology laboratories’ charges for tests for dengue fever.

Civic officials have said that the current outbreak is the worst since 2010, when eight people died and 6259 cases were recorded.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4994

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