Friday, February 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Docs face fatigue syndrome
From Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

AHMEDABAD, Feb 8—When hope came knocking for quake-victims rescued from the debris, death was only a step behind as they were wheeled into the hospitals. Incisions, amputations, surgeries — the doctors saw it all and they also saw life fleeting away as they worked against time. Plagued by the “fatigue syndrome”, the doctors are dogged by ailments of their own though they continue to live “in denial”.

Also, they are just beginning to realise the magnitude of the tragedy that was, even as the dust begins to settle on the quake.

Psychiatrists opine that the sheer numbers being rolled into hospitals overwhelmed the doctors who worked round-the-clock and in the process lost sleep and appetite. Having come through trying times when patients cried for immediate attention, it is time they undertook self-medication, they hold. Experts say the syndrome manifests itself in anxiety and physical exertion, lowering of concentration levels, mild agitation and irritability.

Though senior doctors suffer rarely from the condition, it has taken its toll on the juniors, working under pressure in view of the calamity, contends Dr Hitendra Gandhi, a psychiatrist. The only possible answer to the trouble lies in complete rest, taking tranquilisers in extreme cases of fatigue syndrome, but patients and the situation the doctors are caught up in is unrelenting, unwilling to spare these hands. The young doctors, too, are still full of beans, refusing to take a break.

For the local Lalubhai Govardhandas Hospital, Dr Maulin Shah, involved in operations for 72 hours at a stretch, says: “It was the best ever use of my services and learning. Though tiring, it brought immense satisfaction to us at the end of the day — the satisfaction that we were instrumental in saving a few lives. We are ready to serve more of humanity and go beyond duty hours if the need arises.’’

At the Civil Hospital, the corridors are overflowing with patients and sympathisers. Relatives can be seen lying under beds, in passages and dotting the grounds as well. Here, treatment comes even before a sigh escapes the patient's lips. The kind of service being rendered is beyond expectation and desire for putting up a brave face to the world after witnessing death after death from close quarters leaves one wondering.

“My team of doctors is fit as a fiddle and can go on with their work for even longer. It is nothing like what we have seen before but they are supposed to be able to face such exigencies,” claims Dr Amil Chadham, Medical Superintendent at the hospital. He, however, admits to limitations of doctors and is alive to the problems over-work could pose. “Thankfully the inflow of patients has practically come to a naught. We are certainly better placed and monitoring requires much less effort.Back


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