Doctor shortage means life-threatening delays in SMHS hospital casualty ward

Doctor shortage means life-threatening delays in SMHS hospital casualty ward
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Two doctors in surgical emergency for over 500 patients; interns, junior doctors handle critical cases on daily basis

SRINAGAR: Shortage of doctors has badly affected patient care at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, especially in the Casualty block.
Critical patients face the worst situation during the evening hours at SMHS Hospital – while there are hundreds of such patients, only two doctors have been deployed for their care in the surgical casualty section.
“As per the roster, the surgical emergency section of SMHS Hospital, which includes its emergency theatre and surgical emergency ward, has eight doctors for the evening hours.
But only two doctors are posted in Casualty, which is the first receiving point for hundreds of critical patients coming to the health institute,” official sources told Kashmir Reader.
They said that patients had to wait for hours before receiving emergency treatment at Casualty.
“During evening hours the overburdened junior doctors are forced to handle hundreds of emergency and post-operative patients without any break,” sources said.
According to doctors, there is a shortage of resident doctors in the emergency section while junior doctors and medical interns are forced to handle emergency cases on a daily basis.
They alleged that such practices have been rampant in the hospital which led to misdiagnosis many times.
Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Nowgam area, told Kashmir Reader that his ailing mother had to wait for more than an hour at the SMHS Casualty before doctors would treat her.
“We came to the hospital casualty at around 4 pm as my mother complained of chest and stomach pain. But we had to wait for more than one hour before doctors could see her,” he said.
He claimed that a doctor who checked his mother had disappeared from the Casualty ward when they came back after carrying out all the diagnostic tests he advised.
“When we came back to the Casualty with the test reports, the doctor concerned was not there. Another doctor at the ward couldn’t understand his colleague’s diagnosis. He told us to undergo more tests, which wasted our time and left my mother in distress because she was groaning in pain,” Ahmad said.
Sharifa Bano, a patient with acute gastritis, couldn’t be attended to by any doctor for almost 40 minutes because the doctors were already attending to more than 30 patients on Saturday evening.
“It is very unfortunate that the big hospital is without doctors. Poor and ailing people are being ignored,” she said.
“Where will we go to treat ourselves when we can’t afford to go anywhere else?” Bano asked.
As per an administrator, the Hospital casualty department receives over 500 critical patients after 4 pm. However, he said, the shortage of resident doctors has forced the authorities to depute only two doctors in the Emergency ward.
“The hospital receives several trauma and poisoning cases during evening hours. And having just two doctors means they face a lot of trouble managing them. Some patients have to wait before getting the expert opinion or resuscitation,” he said.
The hospital administration, however, claimed that “there are adequate doctors posted in the Emergency section”.
An on-spot assessment of the Ward highlighted a grim picture as most of the doctors stay away from Casualty duty while most senior doctors leave their place of duty after marking their attendance.
According to resident doctors, most of the consultants and registrars skip Casualty duty because they come under the direct administrative control of the principal of the Government Medical College, Srinagar, while the medical superintendent has no direct role in their working.
The doctors said the principal was lenient about the issue, giving the registrars and consultants the liberty to abandon their duties at great risk to patients’ lives.
Medical Superintendent, SMHS Hospital, Dr Saleem Tak said that there was adequate staff in the hospital’s Emergency Section, which includes Casualty.
“Two doctors are enough for Casualty. Because most of the doctors are posted in the Emergency Theatre due to a huge rush of patients who need surgeries,” he said.

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