The 60-bedded AIIMS trauma centre is almost always full, with 130-150 surgeries being conducted every month. What’s astounding is that the workload is shared by only two senior resident neurosurgeons against the sanctioned strength of 14.
Hospital records show that only five-20 per cent seats of neurosurgery were filled at any given time since the centre became operational 2-1/2 years ago.
Worried that the workload was affecting patient care, the head of the department of neurosurgery, Professor B.S. Sharma, has requested the AIIMS dean to give neurosurgeons super-specialist degrees to trauma centre surgeons like their counterparts at AIIMS. This, he felt, would help them attract and retain talent. A copy of the letter dated December 12, 2008 is with HT.
Responding to the letter, AIIMS trauma centre medical superintendent Dr M.C. Mishra said, “We are aware of the problem and have requested dean Dr R.C. Deka to grant M.Ch degrees, which are super-specialty degrees. This decision should be taken early as this would benefit the patients manifold.”
The letter said: “To add to the problem (of shortage), non- academic senior resident doctors are not competent to handle any neuro-surgical problem and eventually leave after few months of joining.”
To fill in the gap, the trauma centre has to borrow eight-10 senior resident neuro-surgeons from the main neuro-surgery department at AIIMS. This results in increased duty hours for the resident doctors, which are almost 11-13 full day (24-hour) duties every month.
“It is not fair on us. Although this kind of practice gives us exposure to a lot more cases but it is very taxing. We have to work non-stop for several days, leaving us fatigued,” said a senior resident unwilling to be named.
When HT tried to speak to Dr Deka, he declined to comment.
History of AIIMS bears testimony to this stress, as there have been three suicides, all senior residents in neurosurgery department in the last five years.