Srinagar: When health minister Choudhary Lal Singh walked into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of GB Pant Hospital on Saturday without wearing a surgical gown, mask and headgear, his reputation as a fearsome disciplinarian went for a toss.
The NICU is a critical ward where acutely-sick infants are kept and no doctor or attendant is allowed to enter it without wearing a surgical gown, shoe cover, headgear and gloves.
“It’s a crime. The infants in NICU have low immunity and are susceptible to infections. And someone going into the ward without proper precautions is unacceptable,” said a doctor at the hospital, wishing anonymity.
“A doctor is supposed to wash his hands and arms up to the elbows before examining a baby in the NICU. And he has to repeat the practice for every new infant he examines. This shows how vulnerable the infants in the NICU are,” he added.
The doctor said “who knows how many places Singh had visited and how many people he shook hands with before making such a careless entry into the ward”.
The principal Government Medical College and the medical superintendent of GB Pant, who were accompanying Singh, did not tell him to follow the procedure.
Singh has drawn flak for scolding, even insulting, doctors and paramedical staff for not wearing aprons. Recently, a woman psychiatrist in Jammu had file a complaint against him, when he insulted her at a public function for not wearing an apron, although she had told him that psychiatrists are not required to.
A few days ago, a photograph showing him adjusting the collar of a woman doctor’s apron went viral on social networking sites and drew outrage.
A couple of months ago, he had insulted head department of surgery at the SMHS hospital, Showkat Jeelani, for not wearing an apron.
GB Pant Hospital medical superintendent Mushtaq Ahmad, however, said that Singh had washed his hands and wore a shoe cover.