Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) and an independent inspection team from Ministry of Health (MoH) is investigating the recent death of a 34-year-old woman, Sostika Gurung, in an isolation hotel in Thimphu.
According to the Health Minister, Dasho Dechen Wangmo, when the investigation is completed, the MCB, as an independent regulatory authority, will make the findings public.
The Health Minister said that if MoH or a health worker is found guilty of negligence, there will be consequences, but due diligence must be done thoroughly. All facets of the situation will be considered.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family for the unfortunate incident that occurred. When we learned of it, the Prime Minister immediately ordered an independent inspection team to look into the matter, and we, in turn, instituted an independent team to look into it after receiving instructions from the national taskforce led by the Prime Minister, and the report has already been submitted. In our country, we have a system in place for incidents like this, and if there has been any negligence, there is a Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC),” the Health Minister said.
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 sent to an isolation unit where Sostika Gurung could get dialysis the same day, they were placed in an isolation hotel with inadequate blankets and a malfunctioning heater.
Sostika Gurung began to feel ill, and her condition progressively worsened after midnight. Krishna didn’t have any specific health authorities’ contact numbers, so he started phoning the same person who had brought them the blanket and pillow, only to discover that she wasn’t a nurse, but rather a person-on-duty at 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 believes his wife would not be dying in a cold room if she had been given dialysis, if the nurse on duty had answered his calls, and if the ambulance had arrived on time. He said that she spent the last hours of her life in agony and pain. He claimed that his wife died as a result of the medical staff’s negligence.