A video purportedly showing a coronavirus patient being beaten by hospital staff in Gujarat’s Rajkot went viral on Thursday, The New Indian Express reported. The family of the victim has alleged that he died due to the assault and not the infection.
The man, identified as 38-year-old Prabhashankar Paatil, was admitted to the government-run Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Medical College hospital on September 8 for a kidney-related ailment. He was diagnosed with the coronavirus after he was admitted. He died on September 12.
In the video, reportedly shot about a week ago, a paramedic can be seen pinning Paatil to the floor with his knee while other hospital staff hold his hand. “Didn’t I tell you not to do it?” the paramedic is heard saying, even as Paatil says: “Wait, please wait.”
Following this, the paramedic is heard saying that the police were coming, and Paatil attempts to run. However, a security guard with a baton pushes the patient down to the floor. The paramedic then slapped the 38-year-old patient as he shouted “corona...corona”. After this, a nurse is heard consoling Paatil.
After the video went viral and local news channels aired the footage, the hospital administration clarified that the patient was being “restrained” and that he was “mentally ill”, The Indian Express reported.
“He [Paatil] was in a very acute stage of delirium,” Jayanti Ravi, principal secretary of health and family welfare, told the newspaper. “He had no orientation. He was running around and had taken off his clothes. He even tried to throttle another patient.”
Ravi said that the hospital staff handled the situation appropriately, and denied all the allegations of using force. He added that the incident was “very sensitive” and urged the media to look into it accordingly.
The hospital’s Medical Superintendent Doctor Pankaj Buch said that Paatil was tested positive for Covid-19 and was also suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
“Dr Monali Mankodi, the trouble-shooting officer, said he [Prabhashankar Paatil] was impatient to go to the window and sit there,” Buch said. “In order to ensure that he didn’t topple over ventilators of other patients, our staff handled him properly…. In the video also, you must have noticed that no one has beaten him.”
After it was pointed out that the video showed hospital staff beating him, the superintendent said Paatil was being “restrained” and the medical personnel were “trying to control him.” He said that patients become aggressive when “such mental illness” is coupled with the coronavirus infection. “But even they have to be handled with sensitivity… and that is exactly what our team has done,” Buch added.
However, Paatil’s family refuted any claims that he had any mental illness. Vilas Paatil, the patient’s younger brother, said that Prabhashankar Paatil did not have a phone with him at the hospital. His brother added that whenever the family tried to visit him, they were told that he was sleeping or not in a condition to speak.
“On September 12 morning, we were told that his condition was fine and that he had breakfast also,” Vilas Paatil told the newspaper. “But by evening, we got a call that he died. It was only today [September 17] that we came to know that he was beaten up.”
The patient’s family identified him in the viral video after they spotted his shirt and from the marks on his face. Vilas Paatil added that he would approach the police after his brother’s funeral in Rajkot.