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Doctors Refused to Help Two-Year-Old on New Year’s Eve in Armenia

Musician Artur Loretsyan, whose child, Samuel, was miraculously saved on Jan. 1, is demanding a meeting with RA Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan, RA Minister of Healthcare Derenik Dumanyan, and RA Minister of Justice Hrayr Tovmasyan, wanting to raise the issue of negligence by doctors, which, according to him, could've led to his child's death. This, Loretsyan conveyed to Epress.am on Thursday.

According to the distressed father, everything began the night of Dec. 31, 2013, when the 28-month-old child's temperature rose sharply. The emergency doctor who arrived around 10 pm recorded the child's temperature at 39°C, then asked what medication the child takes. 

"Then he became angry, as to why in the case of a temperature of 39°C we gave Nurofen or used fever-reducing candles, then he began to give advice, saying 'let the body fight, rub [him] with vinegar.' Then I asked him to check his lungs, but the look on the doctor's face said 'why are you celebrating the new year and I'm not?' The doctor prescribed medication; I bought them, though the drugs we had and those that were newly purchased had the same function," said Loretsyan. 

Around 1:30 am, the child's condition deteriorated drastically and he began to convulse from the high fever. "His body was shaking; he turned green; his eyes rolled back. My wife, father, and brother all in a frenzy and at the same time on different phones called emergency services, but after 20–30 calls we realized we're wasting our time — no one was answering our calls. Let's assume that all the [emergency] brigades are busy, it's an inconvenient time, and so on and so on, but at least someone can answer the phone and say that they can't come, then people will figure out a way themselves instead of wasting time when every second can be fatal," he said. 

Since getting an ambulance proved to be impossible, Loretsyan decided to take the child to the nearest hospital. 

"The doctor who admitted us [at the hospital] didn't even approach or look at the child and said, 'take him, we don't accept him; he's not our patient; we can't do anything.' I was surprised: what does it mean 'he's not our patient'? It's a matter of life and death, and the doctor instead of administering first aid, sends us to the Tsereteli children's hospital. I didn't have time to ask questions, nor to argue: without thinking for a second, we managed to get to Arabkir medical center, where the child's temperature had reached 40.6°C. It took doctors about 40 minutes to bring his temperature back down, for which I am very grateful to them," he said, adding, however, that he has repeatedly witnessed doctors' indifference and negligence but has never talked about it till now.

"When my first child died at Republic Hospital, I approached the doctor and asked to see my baby. The doctor initially refused, but when I insisted, he went and brought my child's body in a SAS supermarket bag and gave it to me. My mother experienced the worst treatment by doctors who have denied the Hippocratic Oath — she died one week after my child's death. 

"I appeal to all who have suffered from the indifference of physicians and urge them to report incidents. I appeal to the government, the country's president, and all relevant authorities and ask them to severely punish all those who dare to act this way with people's lives. If I don't get an answer, I promise to initiate protests with my relatives, friends, and loved ones," Loretsyan concluded. 

Epress.am contacted the No. 1 University Clinical Hospital for explanation, but the head physician's receptionist said such issues are handled by the hospital's public relations department. 

After being informed of the incident, the press service spokesperson said she would provide an explanation later, then called back and asked for Loretsyan's phone number. She said only after speaking with the parent will she answer our questions. 

After this article was published, the hospital's press division called Epress.am and said that the doctor didn't admit the child because their hospital doesn't have a children's department, and the family was advised to take the child to the children's hospital, to a specialist.