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Patient Pays For The Callousness Of Hospital Administration

A premier Indian medical institution failed to inform the family of a HIV patient that she had tested positive. The girl paid for its callousness//, with her life, reports the NDTV, a leading Indian TV channel.

17-year-old Jyoti, was the daughter of an illiterate three-wheeler driver of New Delhi, India’s capital. She was dreaming big. She wanted to become a doctor.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), a prestigious institution, failed to inform the family of a girl patient that she had tested HIV positive.And she paid the price for their callousness - with her life, reports the NDTV, a leading Indian TV channel.

Jyothi, a 17-year-old girl of New Delhi, India’s capital, hailed from a lower middle class family. But she was dreaming big, studying hard to become a doctor.

In November she was admitted to the AIIMS with dengue and Crohn's disease, a severe gastric disorder, often caused by lowered immunity. It was then that the hospital tested her for HIV and discovered that she was positive. Then the tragedy ensued. The hospital authorities did not impress upon Jyothi’s family the need to start HIV treatment for their daughter. In fact they failed to pass on the news itself, it turns out. Four months later she returned to the hospital in an advanced condition and died.

The despondent family learnt that the hospital did know in November itself that Jyoti had developed HIV, but withheld the information. They naturally suspected that she contracted it during blood transfusion at the AIIMS. And the TV channel stepped in to investigate.

As it happens, under a protocol of the World Health Organisation (WHO), hospitals cannot directly inform patients that they are HIV positive. Instead the person is asked to meet a doctor face to face who would explain the disease. Apparently Jyothi’s family had then been told to collect the blood test report from a doctor, but they failed to. For they did not take it seriousl y.

There were some written instructions in English too, but none in Jyothi’s family could make out what it was all about. They finally learnt she was HIV positive only when she was rushed to the hospital again early March. Now the AIIMS doctors are arguing that Jyothi was the victim of a rare HIV strain that developed slowly. She perhaps contracted the infection when she was two years old and got a blood transfusion at a private clinic in Delhi.

Even if the family had been taken into confidence properly in November last, it would not have meant much, they contend.

More than five million Indians are HIV positive, some estimates say. And a vast proportion of the country’s population is poor and unlettered. In such a backdrop, the absence of a proper communication channel between doctors and patients could prove fatal, observers warn.

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