Infant dies after two hospitals turn her away

PHOTO: Infant dies after two hospitals turn her away

Eight-month-old Nisza Ismail had high fever and seizures, so her parents took her to two hospitals in west Java, Indonesia.

But they allegedly refused to treat the infant because her parents couldn't afford the treatment.

She was then taken to a third hospital last Friday, but was not treated immediately.

When her condition worsened, she was moved to the intensive care unit where she died last week.

Indonesian health minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih blamed the parents for the death, saying that they should have informed the hospitals upfront that they could not afford to pay for the treatment, Jakarta Globe reported.

After Mitra Kasih Hospital and Handayani Hospital allegedly refused to treat the child, her father Martin Ismail rushed her to Mitra Anugrah Lestari Hospital.

It agreed to take her, but allegedly did not attend to her for about six hours because the parents couldn't pay the administration fees.

Mr Ismail claimed that he could cough up only 150,000 rupiah (S$21) of the 500,000 rupiah the hospital allegedly demanded.

"The hospital insisted on that amount and refused to provide the daughter was in a critical condition," Mr Ismail was quoted as saying.

On Saturday, the hospital suggested moving the child to intensive care, but again asked for money - 217,000 rupiah for equipment and medication.

But Nisza died a while after she was moved to the intensive care unit.

Mr Zakaria, the director of the hospital, claimed that even though they had demanded that the parents pay for the medicine, the "hospital gave (Nisza) the medicine without her family knowing it".

"It is not true the hospital intentionally delayed thetreatment."

He added that care for the infant - whose official cause of death was stomach infection - met the hospital's service standards.

Meanwhile, the health minister said she has talked to Nisza's mother and has also asked for an explanation from Mitra Anugrah Lestari Hospital.

Ms Endang told the Jakarta Globe: "They told me that they had issued a prescription for the patient and although the parents had not purchased the drugs, hospital staff did give the patient some medication."

The minister said that the late care given by the third hospital stemmed from a "miscommunication" between hospital staff and the parents.

"Perhaps the communication wasn't good," the minister was quoted as saying.

"If the parents felt they couldn't afford the treatment, they should have communicated it to the hospital from the time they arrived."

But Ms Endang added that although all hospitals were duty-bound to provide treatment first, regardless of the patient's ability to pay, this was not always heeded by private hospitals, which do not accept the government insurance schemes.

Dr Marius Widjajarta, chairman of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation for Health, said the case was symptomatic of what he called the government's continued disregard for the health and well-being of thepeople.

He said: "The constitution clearly says that the state has an obligation to take care of its people, so this is a betrayal by the state.

"What we need is a revolution in the health care system. As long as the current system remains, this kind of cases will keep happening."

This article was first published in The New Paper.