Ludhiana, September 17
Dr Mandeep Sidhu, Senior Medical Officer (SMO) in-charge of the Civil Hospital, here, has claimed that doctors working at the hospital had achieved more benchmarks than specified by the Health Department.
In her additional report submitted to the high-level inquiry committee, she stated that the Emergency Department of the hospital had catered to an average of 150 patients on every Sunday in August when an unidentified patient had died after falling off the stretcher at the hospital.
The SMO was found lacking in control and supervision over staff and management during the inquiry into the death of the unidentified patient at the hospital on August 27, which was conducted by a panel, headed by Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik as its chairperson and comprising Additional Deputy Commissioner Gautam Jain, SDM (East) Gursimran Singh Dhillon and Civil Surgeon Hatinder Kaur as members.
The inquiry, ordered by Chief Secretary Anurag Verma while taking cognisance of the matter on August 29, had already reported additional/ supervisory lapses on the part of five other doctors and lack of better management/ vigilance on the part of another doctor on duty at the hospital on the fateful day.
“All specialists have achieved more benchmarks than specified by the department. In August, an average of 150 patients had visited the Emergency Department on every Sunday for treatment,” she submitted while stating that during the Covid-19 pandemic when the Civil Hospital was converted into a 200-bed hospital, including 16-bed ICU unit, over 4,000 patients were treated with dedication by medical and paramedical staff.
Highlighting the acute staff shortage, the SMO reported that the Civil Hospital had been upgraded to 300-bed from 100-bed but most of the staff strength had not been increased as per the Indian Public Health Standard (IPHS) guidelines. “The hospital has shortage of staff even against the sanctioned posts,” she said.
Dr Sidhu submitted that only 13 regular Class IV employees had been posted against the sanctioned 51 posts while only two safai sewaks had been posted against the sanctioned 52 posts at the Civil Hospital, following which the cleanliness work at the hospital had been outsourced to a private agency.
“As per the IPHS guidelines for a 300-bed hospital, 135 staff nurses should be posted but we have only 51 sanctioned posts,” she revealed.
The SMO said as per the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare providers (NABH) guidelines, the required patient-staff nurse ratio was specified as 1:6 (one staff nurse for every 6 patients) at the general ward per shift.
“There are 46 beds in the male ward. As per these guidelines, eight staff nurses are needed per shift but at present, due to shortage of staff, only two staff nurses are posted per shift every day,” she detailed while stating that the staff nurses and other requisite staff had been engaged for part-time duties on a honorarium basis from hospital user charges.
Attributing staff shortage as a major cause for the patient’s death, Dr Sidhu submitted: “In view of the aforesaid facts, the deficiency of medical and paramedical staff seems to have played a major role in the unfortunate incident of August 27, causing death of an unknown patient,” the SMO reported while seeking necessary directions for filling of vacant posts of medical and paramedical staff at the earliest.
CS took suo motu notice
Taking a suo motu cognisance of the incident, Chief Secretary Anurag Verma had asked for strictest action against all those found wanting. “In this case, a precious human life has been lost. So, you are directed to take strictest possible action against all concerned on whose part lapses/ negligence have been found in the inquiry report. It shall include the doctors/nurses and other employees,” the CS had written to the Principal Secretary Health (PSH), Vivek Pratap Singh, on September 6.
The CS had also asked the PSH to personally visit the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana and issue clear-cut guidelines/ standard operating procedures after analysing the complete set up, so that such an incident does not re-occur in future at that hospital or at any other government hospital. “It should be done by September 13,” Verma had ordered.
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