Thursday, October 31, 2013

Indigo mistreats critically ill patient

My mother-in-law, a critically ill patient, was referred from Neelachal Hospital, Bhubaneshwar to Global Hosptials, Hyderabad and was taken from BBI to HYD. She was referred to speciality treatment for "Acute Liver Failure." She had about 5 hours to reach the next medical facility and was on life support drugs for the period of transfer.

On 29th of October, our group of 6 people, including the patient on wheelchair, reported at Bhubaneshwar Indigo airlines terminal at about 9 AM for physical checkin. The lady at the counter looked at the patient and asked for medical "fit to fly" certificate. The "fit to fly" certificate that stated Acute Liver Failure, transfer certificate from one medical facility to another, and complete medical records were immediately shared with the lady facilitating the checkin.

This is where the hell broke loose -- she refused to check the patient in stating that Indigo policy does not allow these kind of patients to fly as she is suffering from a "communicable disease." After arguing, she went to ask the Indigo airport manager. The manager came out and argued again about not letting the patient fly as she is suffering from a "communicable disease."

We asked about the staff's medical competence and further asked to give access to either Indigo medical doctor or the airport doctor. We were clearly told that they WILL NOT give access to anyone either physically or on phone and they cannot let the patient cannot fly. They also in clear terms told us that "Even a class 1 student knows that this is a communicable disease."

In the meanwhile, the patient, asked us "will they let me die here at the airport, will I not be able to go to Hyderabad for treatment?"

They kept refusing to let their/airport doctor talk to the consulting hospital, they kept arguing in harsh and loud tone based on their understanding of the disease, while we kept arguing to consult a medical doctor. About 40 minutes had passed by then, the patient was suffering and the whole family was in tears that they might loose a family member.

My wife on the other hand called the patient's consulting doctor, a leading gastroenterologist in Bhubaneswar, on his phone and told him about the problem at the airport. When the doctor wanted to talk to the airport staff, the airport manager initially refused to talk, but when my wife insisted in louder and harsher tone, he reluctantly talked to the doctor.

We along with the patient, kept waiting while the airport manager made some more calls. Somehow, magically on the 11th hour, just a few minutes before the aircraft closed doors, they issued boarding passes while passing a lot of judgements.

The otherwise peaceful signing of mandatory "Indemnity Form," came alongwith extreme threatening tone from Indigo that they are not responsible. Anyway, we understand that Indigo will not be held responsible for any mishap, but the tone was uncalled for.

We finally could board the plane just before the door was being closed, about 50 minutes from the time we started to check in. The patient was transferred to a speciality care facility in Hyderabad on time and is recovering now.

The critically ill patient suffered and had given hope. The family suffered as they were faced with irrational, ill-behaved, did not want to follow SoPs, non-caring, Indigo staff.

The customer care heads of IndiGo seem not to reply to mails and probably do not care too. Do not fly IndiGo if you have a suffering patient because IndiGo does not care!

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