Dr Sana Usman: Strangled by a hospital elevator

Published: October 21, 2012
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It was in those gaps in which her dupatta got stuck as the elevator moved and it strangulated her. PHOTO: MISHA TANVEER

I didn’t actually talk to her during my five years at med-school. I only saw her occasionally, and noticed her even more infrequently; but those who did, lost her the morning of October 9, 2012.

Her death was not due to natural causes; her death was also not an accident; her death was no less than murder.

Her name was Dr Sana Usman and she was my batch mate in Sindh Medical College. We had only just graduated in March and it had been five months since we have started our house jobs in Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) – one of the largest federal government hospitals in Pakistan.

For more than one week she was on a ventilator and cardiac support in the surgical ICU of JPMC. Her only mistake was that she used the elevators in the Nephrology department – elevators that had gaping holes in its doors, where there should have been glass.

It was in those gaps in which her dupatta got stuck as the elevator moved and it strangulated her. In her effort to free herself her arm was twisted behind her back and inside the open window of the door. After considerable delay she was ‘rescued’ from the elevator and brought to JPMC’s emergency department on a stretcher that was pushed on the road as fast as it could go.

She was declared dead in the ER before she was resuscitated and her heart restarted. This took more than 15 minutes of CPR, enough for her brain to be permanently damaged because of lack of oxygen. From there, she was shifted to the surgical ICU.

But all of this was to no avail.

It only brought nine days of false hope to Sana’s family and to us.

Her death has been a shocking eye opener for all of us and a testimonial to our government’s efficiency. The responsibility of her death lies at the blood stained hands of the negligent management at JPMC and the lax attitude of the government.

What kind of a working environment are we doctors working in?

I don’t even know if we will even come out alive after this mandatory one year training. I say this because thee is an occasional exchange of gun fire and bomb threats (read explosions) on its premises including the ER. Here looters are on the loose and can at any given time snatch you off your valuables or better yet sneak into sleeping female doctors on-call room and steal from their bedsides and even worse.

Here, at JPMC, men even strut around with their pants down assaulting unassuming doctors.

We have been working here for five months without a single month’s salary being paid to us!

Can you imagine living like this?

That’s what the late Dr Sana Usman said to her sister a day before the fatal accident. She expressed her concern of being a financial burden on her parents even though she was a working woman.

I beg you, I beg the president of Pakistan and the director of JPMC, don’t let more of us die in vain. Please, let Sana’s death be a catalyst for change – a change for the better and for the good.

Misha Tanveer

Misha Tanveer

Currently working at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Misha has a keen interest in writing and photography.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.