Coronavirus Patient Dies After Family Unplug Ventilator to Use AC

A man being treated for COVID-19 at a hospital in India has died after his family allegedly turned off his ventilator to plug in an air cooler, as reported by the Indian Express.

The 40-year-old patient was being treated for breathing difficulties and suspected COVID-19, though his coronavirus test later came back as negative. The man was being cared for at ICU in the Maharao Bhim Singh (MBS) Hospital in Rajasthan's Kota district, where he was moved to an isolation ward after another patient tested positive for coronavirus.

According to the Indian Express, on June 15 the isolation ward was hot, so the family allegedly unplugged the ventilator to plug in the air cooler. The ventilator had a battery but after being unplugged, it ran out of power around 30 minutes later and the man's condition deteriorated. The family informed the medical staff who performed CPR but the patient died.

A committee was formed and hospital Medical Superintendent Naveen Saxena told IANS: "We have set up the committee to investigate the incident based on the primary information. The committee includes the deputy superintendent of the hospital, nursing superintendent, and CMO.

"We will look into the matter and then shall explore further action for a need to go to the police."

Detail of a ventilator to be repaired from a public hospital amidst the COVID-19 pandemic on May 4, 2020 in Sao Caetano do Sul, Brazil. A family in India allegedly turned off their family member's ventilator to plug in an air cooler, resulting in the man dying shortly after. Buda Mendes/Getty

The committee recorded the statements of the medical staff working in the isolation ward, but Dr. Saxena said that the family members of the man who died are not responding to the committee. The doctor also said action would be taken against whoever is found to be responsible for the man's death.

According to Vice, Kota district's Nayapura area police station said no formal complaint had been filed with the police.

The hospital authorities told the Indian Express that the ward is staffed by four or five medical staff and a resident doctor. Dr. Saxena told Vice that: "The hospital hasn't been designated as a COVID-19 center, but for the safety of our patients, we have made a makeshift isolation ward to admit suspected patients."

They said that the family did not ask for permission to unplug the ventilator and "misbehaved" with the staff when the man died.

According to the Johns Hopkins University, India has reported more than 473,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 14,800 coronavirus-related deaths. More than 270,000 people in India have recovered from the coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health in India reports that in Rajasthan, where the man died, there are 3,023 active cases of coronavirus. In this district, 12,611 people have recovered and 375 people have died.