Srinagar: Examining patients in Kashmir is more like cooking instant noodles: The doctors at two main government run hospitals here the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura or SHMS Hospital dont have anything beyond two minutes to examine a patient, mostly because of overburden.
At the twin specialized hospitals, on an average, a 100 doctors provide medical consultation to over 10,000 patients a day. The patient: doctor ratio, brazenly violates the international standards, where each case needs at-least half an hour of individual consultation.
Experts said this hurried medical examination poses a serious threat to patient care in the Kashmir Valley. Read On.
Ek Anaar Sau Beemar
In no less than the real-time adaptation of the famed Urdu maxim Ek Anaar Sau Beemar, the doctors at these government-run hospitals are always running short of time. And, this is why it happens.
As per official records, SKIMS and SMHS hospitals receive over three lakh patients a month. This means on an average more than ten thousand patients visit the two hospitals a day.
But the huge patient influx is not compatible with the number of medicos available.
Officials said SKIMS has a total of 69 doctors available for the task, of which; 19 are consultants, 26 senior residents and 24 PGs.
Likewise, at SMHS Hospital, there are 58 doctors, of which; 16 are consultants, 22 senior residents and 20 PGs.
These doctors cater to the OPD and the Emergency units, alike.
A case study
Last month, in yet another case of medical negligence at SKIMS, a mother of three died when the doctors on duty at the emergency ward formally asked her attendants to treat this dying patient.
On May 11, 2016, 48-year-old Tasleema Jan wife of Engineer Nisar Ahmed Shah of Chanapora was rushed to a hospital in an unconscious state.
On reaching SKIMS, the family got a shock of life when the doctors asked them to do the “specialized job” of giving her oxygen through Umbobag, which is to be run by specialized staff.
The attendants of this patient, admitted under MRD number 916135, begged before the doctors that they were not trained to manage such medical devices. But the reply came negative.
Helpless, the family agreed and started hurriedly pumping the Umbobag. But as the attendants knew nothing about medical science, they kept pumping the bag as fast or slow they found would be better.
Within an hour of the pumping, the condition of the patient deteriorated. And she finally died.
Prominent medico, Dr Abdul Majid Wani, a SKIMS alumni, who happens to be relative of the deceased termed it a typical case of medical negligence. Dr Wani, who has over 60 globally acclaimed research papers, credit said This is fall of grace and medical ethics.
But the Medical Superintendent SKIMS Dr Farooq Jan, said there was no medical negligence. “This is a normal condition for us to ask attendants to pump umbobags,” he said.
He said the hospital was running short of workforce and thus some of the responsibility of doctors and paramedics was to be shouldered by the attendants.
As per the medicos working at the SKIMS emergency ward, the facility remains overcrowded.
Given the huge rush of patients, it becomes almost impossible to treat the patients properly. There are
three to four doctors working in the emergency ward to cater to the needs of hundreds of patients daily. There is a dearth of workforce, equipment as well as space, said a medico adding It is impossible to give quality treatment to such a huge number of patients with such a limited staff available.
Same is true for the OPD sections of these hospitals while beeline of patients runs into hundreds.
Undue rush from peripherals
While the twin hospitals remain flooded with patients, observers said most of the cases happen to be the ones who are not offered proper treatment at the hospitals in other districts.
The percentage of rural patients visiting the hospitals per day stands at around 65-70% as against the 27% of the urban population.
It is true that the primary healthcare set up is not up to mark but even patients who can be easily treated at the primary health centres visit these tertiary hospitals for treatment. This only increases the pressure on the already overburdened staff and hospital resources, said a senior medico asking not to be identified.
There is no proper facility available at the district hospitals. I used to have a reoccurring pain in my left arm and I went to the district hospital for treatment but due to the non-seriousness of the doctors, the pain only got aggravated. This is why I was forced to come to SKIMS for treatment, said Ishfaq Ahmed of Anantnag.
But getting medical consultation at SKIMS isnt that easy. We have come here early in the morning as my mother complained of severe abdominal pain but the rush of patients is so much that I had to bring a trolley and put in the corridor for her as there was no space left in the main ward, said Abid Ahmed of Kupwara.
Health experts press panic button
Health experts cautioned that overburdening medicos was taking toll on patient care in this strife-torn region in the Himalayas. Referring to the alarming rise in number cancer cases in the Valley, they said it cant be ruled out if hurried medical examination was leading to wrong diagnosis.
Majority of cancer cases in Kashmir are diagnosed at last stage which means that early signs of the ailment are either ignored or wrongly treated, he said.
A little delay in medical help can be a matter of life and death. Authorities need to seriously think about the state of
the health sector of the state. The number of patients only keeps increasing day-by-day but the resources remain the same, he said.
Commenting over the issue, Medical Superintendent, SKIMS Dr Farooq Jan said the shortage of resources could be overcome if the inflow of patients from peripherals is reduced.
Patients who can easily be treated at the district hospitals should not be allowed to come to this hospital. This will reduce the rush of the patients significantly and will allow the doctors to treat more severe cases. Unnecessary referrals must also be curtailed, he said.
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