Srinagar: Kashmir’s lone maternity specialty, Lal Ded Hospital, received close to 1 lakh women from rural areas in nine months last year, more than 40 percent of them referred unnecessarily by various district hospitals, officials said.
According to officials, the hospital’s out-patient department (OPD) receives more than 1,200 women daily and about 120 average admissions take place every day. The hospital conducts more than 100 surgeries a day including 45 C-sections, on average.
“The hospital treated 16,500 female patients in its OPD during December while 1,303 C-section deliveries were conducted last month,” said an administrator.
He said the hospital received around 87,190 patients from rural areas out of a total 1.4 lakh who came to the OPD between April 2018 and December 2018.
The hospital admitted 21,523 female patients from rural areas during this period out of 25,447 total IPD patients treated.
The rural areas belong to Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal, Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam districts where exist more than 35 health institutions including district and sub-district hospitals.
Official sources said the highest number of unnecessarily referred patients was received from district Kupwara.
“LD Hospital has received 469 unjustified patients from Kupwara in seven months between February and August 2018. It’s the highest number followed by Budgam from which doctors had referred 449 patients with no serious condition during this period,” they said.
Other districts that referred the patients unnecessarily, officials said, were Baramulla (422), Anantnag (306), Bandipora (278), Pulwama (231), Shopian (96), Kulgam (85) and Ganderbal (83).
As per sources, only 10 to 12 doctors stay posted in LD Hospital for nearly 1,400 patients during 24 hours.
The doctors have to handle nearly 1,200 patients in the OPD, 300 critical cases in the casualty block, labour rooms and post-operative wards in a day. Their duty hours, sometimes, extend up to 40 hours in which they break for only three hours, according to an official.
Presently, the 700-bedded hospital has 22 faculty members, 33 registrars, 53 post-graduate doctors, 12 to 13 medical officers.
“The shortage of medical staff either causes delay in surgeries or puts extra burden on the existing staff,” he said.
She alleged that the absence of specialist doctors in separate Maternity and Childcare wards has also paralysed the hospital’s functioning.
Senior gynecologists told Kashmir Reader that most of the patients needed normal treatment up to the level of delivery, that is, primary and secondary, not tertiary.
“Doctors posted in district hospitals and rural health centers could have managed them there. But they sent them to LD Hospital with silly and bizarre reasons on their referral cards,” said a consultant.
She said after 4pm, even patients with minor abdominal pain visit the LD hospital.
“Some patients are referred with the excuse that a bed is not available. But that is a blatant lie as most of the health centers remain vacant during the night hours,” doctors said.
“Some doctors at district hospitals put fear in the patients’ mind about simple conditions which force them to travel long distances and reach LD. It has become a routine now in many hospitals of north Kashmir during evening hours,” said another gynecologist.
Ironically, some patients are sent because they show symptoms of nervousness and anxiety, which is normal during the pregnancy, she said.
Medical Superintendent Dr Shabir Seddiqui told Kashmir Reader that the unnecessary referrals have put extra burden on LD hospital. It has turned the hospital into a mess, he said.
“We are struggling to handle the huge rush of patients from other districts due to the limited staff,” he said.
Dr Seddiqui said the government must recruit 100 doctors for LD Hospital immediately.
“We have requested for more staff for this hospital. We hope we get new doctors,” he said.