Delhi hospitals don’t have people to run brand new ventilators bought six months ago
In the absence of ventilators, families of critically-ill patients are asked to suction fluid manually and pump oxygen using an ambu-bag, a hand-held device attached with a mask, which has to be pumped at regular intervals to allow patients to breathe.delhi Updated: May 24, 2017 23:45 IST
Less than half of the 125 life-saving ventilators bought for Delhi government hospitals in December 2016 are being used as they have either not been installed or there are not enough people to run them.
The 125 ventilators were to add to the 80 existing ones across Delhi government’s 36 hospitals, which have around 10,000 beds.
As a result, beds with ventilators -- life-support machines that help critically-ill patients breathe -- account for only 0.8% of the total bed strength, which is lower than the recommended 10-20% ventilator beds.
With two to three patients sharing beds in most government hospitals, the need for ventilators is much higher.
In the absence of ventilators, families of critically-ill patients are asked to suction fluid manually and pump oxygen using an ambu-bag, a hand-held device attached with a mask, which has to be pumped at regular intervals to allow patients to breathe.
“We don’t have the manpower to use the ventilators. The gas pipelines are also missing at some places,” said a health department official.
At Lok Nayak, which got the maximum -- 35 of the 125 -- ventilators, only about four or five are working. These are the ones incorporated to the already functioning intensive-care unit and high-dependency unit of the hospital.
Lok Nayak, which has nearly 2,000 beds, had only 41 ventilators -- around 2% of the total bed strength.
Almost all patients admitted under the neuro-surgery department need ICU care but the 50-bed department could book only a couple of ventilators every day from the 15-bed general ICU.
They received 14 ventilators from the current lot, but in the absence of a gas pipeline – which has since been installed – and manpower, the ventilators have been lying in locked ICU rooms.
The hospital is in the process of hiring 36 junior residents – doctors who have completed MBBS – just to run the total 24 ventilators in the neurosurgery and medicine departments.
“It is not possible to run these ventilators with the existing staff. There have to be dedicated people to manage the machines. Running an ICU is a different ball-game, I have done my super specialty but I cannot run it. There has to be special training,” said a city-based neuro-surgeon.
At Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital, which received 10 ventilators, some of the new ventilators would be run by staff members who used to run ventilators that have been condemned.