Bhutan Medical and Health Council (Located at Faculty of Traditional Medicine Building Level 4, Kawajangsa, Thimphu)

Bhutan Medical and Health Council to investigate the death of the 34-year-old woman who died in an isolation hotel in Thimphu

Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) will be investigating the recent death of a 34-year-old woman, Sostika Gurung, in an isolation hotel in Thimphu.

An official from BMHC said, for now, they are cross-checking the facts which was reported in the media with the deceased’s husband who is currently in an isolation hotel in Phuentsholing with his two daughters who are also COVID-19 positive.

The official said there is a need to follow up on this case, and it needs deep investigation. So they will be contacting the Quality Assurance and Standards Department (QASD) of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) and also contact relevant officials from the Ministry of Health.

The official said they have not contacted them yet, but right after the lockdown is lifted, BMHC will contact all the relevant officials for the case.

The case investigation will be done similar to court proceedings. BMHC’s mandate is to look at professionalism and their code of conduct for the health professionals, and see whether there is any medical negligence. If the registered health professionals are not at fault in the death of a 34-year-old kidney patient, then BMHC will have to withdraw the case.

If the health professionals are involved in this incident, then actions will be taken accordingly. The official said it is high time to look into medical negligence and take actions duly.

The BMHC official said it is good that the case has been highlighted in the media, because not many people are aware about BMHC, which regulates such issues.

He said the public must put up complaints to them if they have gone through any issues with regard to health services.

An Official from the QASD department in JDWNRH said they have not received any information on an investigation on the case, for now.

The official said there was no official complaint reported on this so far since they only look into the cases, which are reported to QASD.

However, if JDWNRH receives formal complaints then they will investigate the case, and look into every detail, such as who was the health person on duty that night, and QASD will also look into the roles and responsibility and timings. They will also check on the call records of 112 that night whether they received a call or not, and also check the activity of the ambulance that night. So every detail will be uncovered.

The deceased’s husband, Krishna Gurung, talked to the media about the case as he felt that no one else should suffer such a death, especially when it comes to people with no strong background.

The husband said it is good that his wife’s case has been taken up by BMHC, for which he is thankful, as he reiterates that it is due to the negligence from the hospital’s side, that his wife passed away.

He said that his late wife was referred only after the consultation with the health professionals, and she was not referred without any reasons.

Background

34-year-old Sostika Gurung was a kidney patient who was undergoing dialysis in Phuentsholing until she contracted the coronavirus, after which, she was referred to Thimphu for dialysis, with her husband accompanying her as the caregiver. Krishna said his wife’s dialysis appointment was scheduled on 27 January.

Instead of being admitted in an isolation ward where Sostika Gurung can undergo dialysis on the same day, they were put up in an isolation hotel with little blankets and a heater that did not work well.

Sostika Gurung started feeling sick, and her health quickly deteriorated after midnight. Krishna did not have any particular contact numbers of the health officials, and therefore, he started calling the same person who brought them the blanket and pillow, only to find out that she was not a nurse, but a person-on-duty in the isolation hotel.

She forwarded him the number of a nurse-on-duty, and then he started calling the nurse, repeatedly, but there was no response to his calls. He also called the 112 emergency number, and explained to them that his wife was seriously ill and to send the ambulance.

There was no ambulance or nurse to rescue Sostika Gurung, and she died around 6 am in the morning of 28 January.

Krishna Gurung said if only she was given dialysis, if only the nurse-on-duty picked his calls, if only the ambulance had come on time then his wife would not be dying inside a cold room. The last hours of her life was spent in anguish and pain, he said. He said that the death of his wife is due to the carelessness of the health staff.

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