18 February 2013

Are private hospitals holy cows?

A little child, Buddhini Kaushalya Ratnayake (5) died under strange circumstances at the Nawaloka Hospital.  The child was admitted to hospital on January 31.  The child’s parents blame hospital authorities and allude to malfunctioning equipment. The hospital claims the child died of natural causes stemming from her illness. 
The story broke out around February 7 after the parents lodged a complaint with the Police (on the 6th).  They claim that the hospital authorities misled them regarding the condition of the child.  The further allege that the version presented by Nawaloka has not been consistent.  It is pertinent that the parents were not allowed to see their child for 4 or 5 days. 
The Nawaloka statement does not state the time and date of death.  Neither does it say anything about the parents being allowed to see their child.  This is strange, particularly considering the damage to reputation that any vagueness in statement can cause given the wide publicity the incident has received in the media. 
Nawaloka claims, ‘We are reluctantly compelled to issue this news item in view of the adverse publicity based on incorrect/false facts regarding the death of Buddhini Kaushalya Ratnayake’.  Nawaloka can then, legitimately, claim that delay in responding was ‘out of sympathy and concern for loved ones of the child in their time of grief’. Such corporate sensitivity is rare to the point of disbelief, however. 
We can give Nawaloka the benefit of the doubt on this issue.  The claims of all parties concerned, parents, doctors, nurses etc., however, must be verified and will be verified in court.  Sensitivities, grief and such will be bested by reason, one must hope. 
What is pertinent here is the tendency of media to name and shame state institutions and employees at the first hint of error and an equal aversion to name (forget shame) corporate entities (especially prominent ones) when wrongdoing is suspected.  Everyone knew the child’s name but there was only mention of ‘a private hospital’.  A good example would be the recent case where a law student was the victim of a medical misadventure.  The Government hospital was named. Doctors were named.  The entire state health sector was drawn over the media coals, so to speak. 
No hospital is perfect.  All doctors (like all professionals) make mistakes.  People do leave room for error.  On the other hand, if we were to scan the news pages of the past 10 years, we might very well conclude that private hospitals are perfect, that the patients who seek relief in them are treated by angels and if they do not recover it is because they came too late for medical teams to save them. 
Nawaloka Hospital has given its version of events related to the death of little Buddhini Kaushalya Ratnayake.  Nawaloka Hospital can take a second step.  The hospital authorities can submit themselves to a comprehensive investigation regarding all pertinent factors associated with this case, including the status of relevant equipment and the testimony of all attending medical staff.   
As for the media (us included of course), it is time we acknowledge our errors, flaws and irresponsibility and strive to do be less selective, in both praise and blame.  


Mayya said...

This is a matter of highest concern and the court case will do the justice, may it Nawaloka or the Parents. However I have my doubts, as we live in SL, and here the justice is determined by might and money. this is a funny country of right become wrong and wrong become right. latest example is that girl who robbed 8 coconut has become a hero and complainer has become the villein. The media determines who is right and wrong. but same people are silent when it big people involved in the case...

it is shame to witness the practice of sri lankan journalism. however no surprises as journalist also part of the highly corrupted & undisciplined social system. they write what they paid for.they are also same as us. earn something to eat.

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