As her doctor, I failed my patient & now I have to live with this guilt.


“Last week, I helped deliver a baby, but what is that 1-day old girl’s fault? Why does she have to suffer so much and I as her doctor was helpless at making  things any better for her?” questioned Dr Vaishali Ahuja to herself, a gynaecologist in Delhi.  

“The pressure was highest for this particular delivery because the mother tested COVID positive. I had tried my best to save the baby from getting infected. I had prescribed medicines and diet in a particular way so that the baby can stay healthy and safe. But, not even a single effort of mine could help the baby from being infected and that has been bothering me the whole week. 

After delivering the baby, when I held that small living being in my palms, I could feel her warm body through my gloves. I didn’t want my fear to be true because her cry was not a normal baby’s cry but a cry for help. This little being was struggling with a hot body and God alone knows what more pain and suffering because she couldn’t even tell what she was feeling. 

Today morning I got the news that the baby didn’t survive. I feel it was my fault. I didn’t know what I could have done to save the baby. Could I have done anything more to save the baby from  getting infected? What would the mother be going through? After delivering, the patient was immediately shifted to the COVID ward. She probably doesn’t even know that her baby is no more. I would’ve almost died if something like this happened to my baby. I feel so helpless, I know that nothing can be done about it. My family and colleague have been telling me to get over it because it wasn’t my fault and the baby was too small to have fought with the virus. But being a doctor, how can I let this ‘Nothing could’ve been done’ thought make things easy for me? 

It is not that I haven’t seen babies who couldn’t make it into this world due to complications. But this is very different. If the baby would’ve made it, it would’ve been the best thing, living against all odds. Maybe I hoped for more from the baby, but do I even deserve this expectation where I didn’t save the baby myself? How can I let go off this guilt? I know I couldn’t have done any more, but I cannot stop thinking about the ‘what ifs’ either. I don’t think I can help deliver any more COVID positive mothers. I just don’t want to take the risk of any more death, that too of a small life who is unaware of the surroundings,” says Dr Ahuja resignedly.