The Punjab health department's recent move to transfer medical officers from Patiala and Amritsar medical colleges to other hospitals and dispensaries as specialist officers has left the management at the Government Rajindra Medical College and Hospital here scurrying to meet the demands of the emergency ward. The authorities have now put junior residents, who have just completed MBBS, Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) doctors and students pursuing post graduation on the job of the medical officers, who oversaw emergency medical services, maintenance of records and handling of legal cases in the hospital.
Medical superintendent of the hospital Dr VK Sharda said all arrangements were made by deploying the best available staff and interns to deal with sensitive emergency cases.
"Besides posting junior residents, interns and senior residents, the senior doctors would be available on telephone round-the-clock in case of emergency. Moreover, PCMS doctors, who have experience in handling such cases, have been put on the job," said Dr Sharda.
The hospital, which was already reeling under shortage of doctors, is now severely understaffed after the health department, on July 2, transferred 40 medical officers from Patiala and Amritsar medical colleges to meet the shortage at other hospitals. A total of 23 doctors among them were from the Government Rajindra Hospital.
Though the authorities claim to be taking steps to meet the situation, entrusting serious emergency cases to recently graduated students, who lack practical knowledge, could endanger patients.
"It is going to be very risky to hand over the job of handling critical cases to MBBS interns. They are in their learning stage and cannot be allowed to handle full-fledged services," said a doctor at the hospital.
Emergency and casualty wards, blood bank, cardiology department and newer units of medicine and surgery will be largely affected because there will hardly be any doctors to examine patients apart from the teaching faculty. With 45 doctors set to retire in the coming session, the situation is likely to worsen. 14 doctors had already retired since January this year.
Also, the shortage of senior residents would make it difficult for the authorities to regularly deploy available senior residents on emergency services.
"If the faculty or resident doctors are put on emergency duties, it may disrupt patient care and normal functioning of the wards," said one of the senior doctors.