Make Hospitals Safer - Stop them from becoming Life Takers!!

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It has been 68 days and I have re-played the last two days of her life over a 100 times in my mind. I lost my mother because of the careless approach of Sterling Hospital, Ahmedabad – A hospital that has no process or intention to prevent infection in patients, through basic precautionary measures.  ( Their team window-dresses the files, rooms and patients when the inspectors come for an inspection and I witnessed this while my mother was admitted in this hospital. The nurses verly calmly say “ Wo inspection ke liye aayen hain to aisa karna pad raha hai,” otherwise they very calmly flout rules”  

 I don’t know where to start and have debated about writing this or not everyday. It is still difficult to believe that she is not there and we have lost her forever. Everyday when I am at work or try to get back to so called life, I am in denial of the fact that she has gone….somewhere I keep hoping that she will suddenly appear from another room or call or just reach out in a dream. Each night reminds me that this is permanent and something that I cannot change, however strongly I may want to …this loss is permanent and nothing, absolutely nothing can change it. People may say that time is a healer but it is not, and can never be. This has also made me realize that unless one experiences it, one cannot completely understand what it means to lose someone you love and is integral to your life.

Unfortunately, in February 2018, my mother developed a stomach infection and was admitted to Sterling Hospital, Ahmedabad for treatment. What was meant to be a few days of treatment, turned into a 16 day stay at the hospital which became the most unfortunate incident of our lives.  My mother was discharged on 4th March, and the very next day of discharge we had to rush her back in the emergency section of the hospital as she had contracted a fatal infection during her stay at the hospital. We lost her that night. A criti-care team consisting of multiple specialists came in – each one confirmed that she contracted the infection in the hospital. The doctors also confirmed that what she went through was not because of her primary disease but the infection she had contracted. However, the death certificate obviously does not mention that it was a hospital contracted infection and just says ‘septic shock and metabolic acidosis.

I have read every literature possible on septic shock, causes, what could we have done to prevent it and what did we miss at the hospital or in the reports.The report of blood culture on 7th March (after we had already cremated my mother), revealed that the cause was E.coli infection in her blood. During the stay, there were multiple punctures done on her one arm (as she had a fracture in the other arm) for intravenous medicines and the basic precautions were not taken to prevent infection. Infact one day, a nurse came an made a hole in the IV bag with her ball pen instead of a needle and when my sister objected, she said the pen did not go into the medicine, it was only piercing the empty part of the IV bag on top. The hospital was not taking basic precautions to prevent infection inspite of knowing very well that she was a high-risk patient.

I know that writing about this will not bring my mother back but each day I have lost sleep thinking that if it is not brought to the notice of the concerned authorities and not corrected, there is no end to the number of people who could lose their lives. It is absolutely criminal that a hospital that is supposed to cure patients, runs it like a business and is not impacted by the number of deaths or deficiency in their processes.

I tried writing to the hospital directly, then to National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Provider (NABH) as the hospital proudly writes that it was among the first in Gujarat to get NABH accreditation. I also filed an RTI to seek more information on the number of secondary infections at the hospital and steps taken to address it but have not received even an acknowledgement to my mails, leave alone a reply.

It is ironical that when we are planning to go on a holiday or to a new restaurant, we look up the reviews of the place. However, when it comes to medical needs, hardly any of us visit any review pages. We place our trust in a doctor or hospital and go ahead for treatment, also because at mist times we do not have the luxury of time to skim through reviews during a medical requirement. When I tried to build awareness of my experience at sterling Hospital and decided to write a review, I came across multiple reviews where innocent people have suffered at the hands of callous staff and doctors of sterling across Gujarat, not just in Ahmedabad. ( ) Sadly, these reviews get lost in the billions of pages of social media and do not have any impact on the quality of treatment being offered at these hospitals.

Thus, I decided to take this up as my moral duty to ensure that people are aware and no more people suffer in this hospital. I appeal to the Directorate General of Health Services, NABH and QCI (Quality Council of India) to conduct a detailed inspection as this hospital is definitely not suitable to treat patients. We could also explore having a process where each hospital has to display its inspection reports and not just a stamp of accreditation. If this hospital  and its branches have to continue functioning, they need to ensure that they have a stringent process of efficiency and expertise in place otherwise, they should shut down the hospital and not take any more lives. Thanking you in anticipation!

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