Uttam Kumar, 45, sustained severe head injuries and fractures after he was hit by a truck in Baghpat, 40km north of Delhi. Unconscious, he was rushed to the Sushruta Trauma Centre located on the Ring Road near the Inter State Bus Terminal at Kashmere Gate.
Initial CT scans showed deep injuries on the right side of the head. “He is critical and probably needs surgery. We need to shift him to another hospital,” said a senior resident doctor. “We don't have a neurosurgeon. If we keep him here, he will not survive,” he explained.
What’s lackingSushruta Trauma Centre gets 35-40 cases every day. Of them, every fourth person is shifted to another hospital as the centre has no neurosurgeons. The hospital has four positions of assistant professors and five junior residents in neurosurgery vacant. And there is just one radiologist to man all imaging services. While parent hospitals Lok Nayak and GB Pant have not been able to fill up the posts, even the Delhi government has failed.
The hospital gets more than 50 new trauma cases daily and does 150 orthopaedic surgeries every month.
In the two hours preceding Kumar being shifted to GTB Hospital at 6.30 pm on July 12, doctors at Sushruta Trauma Centre moved three more critical cases — two children aged four and seven years and 80-year-old Uttam Mahto — needing neurosurgery to the neighbouring Lok Nayak and GTB hospitals.
Karan, 8, from Ramra village in Gujarat, had slipped on a wet floor at his relative’s house in Vivek Vihar. He had critical head injuries and was vomiting repeatedly. “We kept him in observation for two days and just when we thought he was stable, he vomited,” said a senior resident doctor. “He needs neuro attention, but we don’t have a neuro team,” he admitted.
Four-year-old Prateeksha suffered severe head injuries after she fell from her relative’s rooftop in Sangam Vihar. “Doctors are saying she may have clot injuries. She needs an operation,” said her mother Rajrani. The little girl also suffered occipital (back of the head) bone fractures.
These four episodes took place in just two hours at the Sushruta Trauma Centre. “In a trauma centre, most cases are of head or spine injuries. Not having a neurosurgeon is irresponsible. The hospital administration has requested the Delhi government to appoint a neurosurgeon, but to no avail,” said a senior doctor at the trauma centre.
Moreover, it lacks an MRI machine. Critical patients have to be moved in and out of the hospital for essential scans.
Hospital speak"Despite the many lacunae, we don’t refuse admission to any patient. We call up nearby hospitals to accommodate patients in need of surgery," said Dr Vikas Rampal, additional medical superintendent at Sushruta Trauma Centre. "Recruitments are the responsibility of the Delhi government. We do our best to save lives with whatever little we have," he added.