Friday, February 22, 2008

A horrific case of negligence

India's public hospital and medical system is in a mess. Government hospitals are in a mess, catering to a massive number of patients, having doctors who are not exactly enamoured of the low salaries and bad working conditions (in fact, many doctors work to get a good experience and then parlay this experience to pick up much better salaries in the private sector), with funding constraints. One cannot even begin to compare the conditions at Government hospitals vs. private hospitals, although there are many Government hospitals that still retain a good name. However, no matter what are the reasons that have led to this condition, one expects Government hospitals to cater to the poor, the needy and not turn away anyone in need:

Twenty-seven-year-old Hemanti could not be saved but justice might still be done. Serious action has been taken against three doctors held responsible for the shocking case of medical negligence in Swami Dayanand Hospital on February 16. Hemanti, who was refused admission by the doctors on duty on Saturday night, passed away after she was forced to deliver outside the premises of the MCD hospital. Her baby, however, is reportedly in good health, a hospital source said.
Following a departmental inquiry, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has terminated the contract of Dr Mamta Tyagi, senior resident gynaecologist, on February 19. Two other doctors on duty at the hospital — Dr Deep Sikha, senior resident casualty officer, and Dr D K Padhy, emergency medical officer — have been handed show cause notices.

This is horrific news. Catering to a pregnant lady, poor, needy, bringing a new life into this world, is one of the most important objectives of the health system, and it has failed when such things can happen. One can only hope that the inquiry goes into the root of the matter, and also figure out what caused such an incident to happen. Typically doctors do not let such a thing happen, but the condition of doctors in Indian Government hospitals in pretty bad. They are forced to work for long hours, dealing with a number of patients that would make a doctor in the developed countries run away, and are many times man-handled by relatives of patients, and even by the support staff.
It is better that the health minister, Dr. Ramadoss focus on making sure that the health system is over-hauled, with better allocation of funds, making hospitals responsible for apathetic staff, bad maintenance and cleanliness, and the like rather than trying to make a name for himself in the newspapers.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 6:36 AM