The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) is investigating after a man died at the door of a Mexico City hospital to which he was denied entry.
A 48-year-old man with kidney problems arrived at an IMSS hospital in the northern borough of Gustavo A. Madero on Wednesday morning to seek medical treatment. According to his family, he was denied treatment and not even allowed to enter the emergency department.
A video posted to social media shows the man’s son imploring healthcare workers to treat his father. But his pleas were to no avail.
The footage shows the man, identified only as Ricardo, on the ground outside the entrance to the emergency department of the Dr. Victorio de la Fuente Narváez Trauma and Orthopedics Hospital, which is also treating Covid-19 patients. Finally, ambulance paramedics approached the man only to declare that he had passed away.
“We decided to go to that hospital [because] they were going to receive us there,” the man’s sister told the newspaper Reforma.
Los familiares de este hombre insistían en que tenía problemas renales y no #COVID19 y aún así no lo atendieron. ESTE es el servicio de salud PÚBLICA en #Mexico @lopezobrador_ @SSalud_mx @Tu_IMSS 👇🏻pic.twitter.com/JoDvlmT39V
— Alejandra Aguayo (@alejandraguayoa) February 3, 2021
She said her brother started to struggle to breathe when they arrived at the hospital and may have suffered a heart attack.
“The truth is I can’t describe what it was. I got out [of the car] to ask for help but the guard closed the door and told us to take him to Clinic 24,” she said, referring to another IMSS hospital in Gustavo A. Madero.
Prior to taking Ricardo to the trauma hospital, his family reportedly took him to five other health care facilities but was unable to find a bed for him.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, IMSS director Zoé Robledo said that he had ordered an investigation into the man’s death.
“We had a conversation with the director of the hospital, Fryda Medina Rodríguez, who I asked to carry out an investigation about several important facts that have to be clarified,” he said. “… The vital signs of the patient at the time of arrival also have to be clarified.”
Robledo suggested that medical personnel believed that Ricardo had Covid and blocked his entry to a non-Covid section of the hospital to avoid possible infection among patients. However, the man’s son made it clear that his father didn’t have the infectious disease, telling hospital staff he had kidney problems.
The IMSS director said he will wait to have all the relevant information about the case before a determination is made about whether medical personnel had been negligent or not. He denied that the man’s death was related to the high occupancy levels in Mexico City hospitals as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It might be thought that this is the product of the saturation of hospitals when that’s not the case,” Robledo said, highlighting that additional beds have been installed at several hospitals including the one outside which the man died.
However, there have been reports that indicate that finding a hospital bed in Mexico City has not been easy as the health system came under increasing pressure in recent weeks. Hospital occupancy for general care beds in Mexico City is currently 82%, according to federal data, while 79% of those with ventilators are taken.
Medina, the hospital director, said later on Wednesday that an investigation into the man’s death and the circumstances surrounding it had begun.
“Following the instructions of our general director we’ve begun an internal investigation with the aim of determining responsibility,” she said in a video message.
Medina also said the hospital had offered its condolences to the family of Ricardo, adding “we want to reiterate IMSS’ commitment to protecting the health of the public.”