A 40-year-old man tragically lost his life recently after his visiting family allegedly unplugged the ventilator keeping him alive in order to plug in an air cooler, after the hospital turned off air conditioning to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The unnamed Indian man was suspected to be suffering from COVID-19 and admitted to the ICU at Maharao Bhim Singh (MBS) Hospital in Rajasthan, India, on June 13. Two days later, after another patient there tested positive for the virus, he was moved to an isolation ward as a safety precaution. That same day, the man’s family came to visit, and because it was extremely hot in the Kota district of Rajasthan (41 degrees Celsius), they brought an electrical air cooler. Under normal circumstances, the hospital’s air conditioning would have made the air cooler redundant, but because of the Covid-19 threat, the air conditioning system had been turned off to stop the spread of the virus.
When the man’s family tried to plug in the air cooler, they noticed that there were no available power outlets, save for the ones used for medical equipment, including a mechanical ventilator. Without bothering to consult with hospital staff, they unplugged the ventilator and plugged in the air cooler instead. If the ventilator had stopped working at that point, they would have probably panicked and plugged in back in, but seeing that the device continued to function they didn’t even inform the nurses about it.
Little did the sick man’s relatives know that the backup battery of the ventilator would soon run out, leaving the patient unable to breathe. When the alarm went off, hospital staff rushed to save the man, giving him CPR, but it was too late. Dr Navin Saxena, medical superintendent at the MBS Hospital confirmed to VICE News that the man had died, adding that the doctor on duty that day had accused his family of misbehaving and being negligent.
“We have set up a committee with the deputy superintendent of the hospital, nursing superintendent, isolation ward staff and Chief Medical Officer to file a report that details what happened,” Dr. Saxena said. Despite complaining of breathing difficulties when he was admitted to the hospital, the patient tested negative for COVID-19 after his death.