The delay in releasing the investigation report raises questions

MB Subba

Family members of a 34-year-old kidney patient from Samtse who died in a hotel room in Thimphu last year due to alleged negligence are still waiting for the investigation report to be released by Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) more than six months after her death.

The BMHC completed the investigation and submitted the report to the General Body of Council (GBC), which is chaired by the health minister, for review and endorsement of the findings and recommendations.

An official from the BMHC said that the BMHC had submitted the report to the health minister. The BMHC had taken decisions on its own in the past on such cases but it was learned that the present issue was complicated.

One of the family members of the deceased, Rajan, said that the investigation report should be released so that such issues do not occur in the future.

“We lost one of our loved ones and we won’t get her back. But we want to say that patients should not face such incidents in the future,” he said.

“We requested BMHC to take our quotes in the media as our authentic statements,” he said.   

The BMHC launched its investigation in February after the family members of the deceased said that a lack of proper health assistance and basic necessities like enough blankets in the room had resulted in her death.

The patient was on dialysis and was referred to Thimphu from Phuentsholing. However, she was kept in a hotel isolation room as she had tested positive for Covid-19.

The health ministry stated that she died of cardiac complications due to underlying kidney disease probably exacerbated by the Covid-19 infection.

However, it was learned that the BMHC’s investigation had found negligence in handling the patient and recommended action against those involved in the incident. It was learned that the investigation also found lapses on part of the national task force, which was chaired by the prime minister.

This is not the first time that such cases have surfaced.

The BMHC in November 2018 reprimanded three doctors and three nurses and withheld their “certificate of good standing” for a period of two years for negligence of duty.

A patient in his thirties from Dagana had died at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital after surgery. The patient’s family had lodged a complaint of negligence with the BMHC after the apex hospital denied any negligence of duty.

Some say that the delay in releasing the investigation report raises questions about the possibility of efforts to cover up lapses, if any.

She passed away in the early morning of January 28, the fourth Covid-related death in the country.

The woman from Tshangtenang, Samtse, was a kidney patient undergoing dialysis in Phuentsholing when she tested positive for Covid-19 on January 27. She was living in Phuentsholing in a rented apartment with her two daughters since Samtse hospital does not have a dialysis facility.