Srinagar: Shortage of staff and overburdening of PG students with long hours of work was what led to a pregnant woman from Kupwara being denied admission at LD Hospital, and not violation of any “SOP” (Standard Operating Procedure) that does not even exist, officials at GMC Srinagar and students at LD Hospital say.
Resident doctors at Lal Ded (LD) Hospital are aggrieved at the indictment of their colleague, a post-graduate (PG) student, in the inquiry committee’s report on last week’s denial of admission to the pregnant woman from Kupwara which led to the death of her child.
The resident doctors complain that it was the hospital administration that turned a deaf ear to their repeated pleas about shortage of doctors in critical areas of the hospital, a shortage that led to a PG student being deputed where a senior doctor should have been. The doctors say that their colleague has been made a scapegoat while the actual causes that led to the tragedy have been ignored, in their own interest, by the inquiry committee that comprises senior faculty members.
On Monday, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar suspended the PG student at Gynaecology and Obstetrics Department after the inquiry committee found her “violating Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)” while attending to a referral case at the maternity hospital from far-flung Kupwara district.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that the SOP which has been invoked by the inquiry committee does not even exist.
“There is no such SOP existent in GMC Srinagar or its associated hospitals,” said a GMC official.
He said the resident doctors and PG students were never made aware of any such guidelines or rules.
“All the doctors decide about the critical cases as per their own judgment and according to their experience. No defined SOP was ever followed in the GMC hospitals to manage patients,” the official said.
A senior medico accused the Head of Department, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, and other administrators at LD Hospital of “gross negligence”.
“The absence of a senior doctor in the emergency department on January 17 when the Kupwara woman lost her newborn after she was sent home is the main negligence which should be looked into,” she said.
A PG student cannot handle hundreds of critical patients alone, she said, adding that there must have been a senior doctor, at least a Registrar, present in the emergency facility to decide about patients.
“Otherwise, such errors in judgment are bound to occur and blame cannot be put on her alone,” the gynaecologist said.
A PG student at LD Hospital, wishing anonymity, also said the SOP doesn’t exist. “The SOP invoked is nothing but an escape route for the administration and the faculty members,” she said.
According to sources, the LD Hospital administration has changed the entire roster of on-duty doctors in critical areas after the controversy, and has posted senior doctors including Registrars and Consultants there.
The sources said that the roster was modified after the GMC Principal issued an order asking the administrators to post senior doctors in the emergency department and labour room.
LD Hospital’s emergency department receives more than 300 patients every day on average. Nearly half of them need admissions.
The PG students are the most overburdened lot in the hospital, often having to work 40 hours at a stretch.
“The overburdened emergency section of LD Hospital is run by a lone post-graduate doctor. She has to look after more than 300 patients per day. She has to attend to critical patients, resuscitate them, and decide about their investigations and, admissions,” a hospital official said.
LD Hospital added a new 200-bed block in 2014 with much fanfare, but no staff – not a single doctor or paramedic – has been recruited for it yet.
Services at the new block are being provided by the staff of LD Hospital as part of an “internal arrangement”.
“Three years have passed and not a single person has been appointed for running the affairs of the facility,” said an administrator.
“The hospital is facing shortage of 120 doctors,” he added.
Medical Superintendent of LD Hospital, Dr Shabir Seddiqui, acknowledged the shortage of staff in the hospital. However, he denied any negligence on part of the administration.
“Two PG doctors were posted in the Casualty when the incident took place last Thursday. Now we have posted a dedicated Registrar there on the orders of the Principal GMC Srinagar,” he said.
Dr Seddiqui said that the posting of resident doctors and faculty members comes under the control of the HoD and the MS has no role in it.
“Doctors including PGs, Registrars and Consultants come under the HoD, who directly reports to the Principal,” he said.
Despite repeated attempts, HOD Dr Shahnaz Teng and Principal GMC Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid, couldn’t be contacted.