If you have been in a road traffic accident, the police are most likely to take you to three hospitals — the AIIMS trauma centre on Ring road, Sushruta trauma hospital at Kashmere Gate, or the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital near Connaught Place.
But what are your chances of surviving the ordeal?Very low, shows a reality check by HT. Established in 2006, AIIMS trauma centre, for one, is likely to ask you to leave to scourge the town for treatment after giving you basic first-aid. The reason, they say, is shortage of beds.
Under a Supreme Court ruling, turning away patients is illegal, for both government and private hospitals. If they don’t have beds, they have to transfer the patient to the closest government hospital in their ambulance staffed by a doctor and a paramedic. All trauma centres, in particular, are mandated to keep at least 30 per cent beds reserved for emergency cases. But how many rules are actually enforced?
An HT team spent over two hours at the AIIMS trauma centre during which at least four road accident victims were refused admission on Friday, July 13, between 7 and 9pm.
Among the four who were refused admission was Sangeeta Agarwal, 55, the wife of a post-office employee who was hit by a car on Ring Road on Friday. She had sustained multiple fractures in her legs. Her husband Maneesh had to finally take her to a private hospital in Faridabad as he found Delhi hospitals far too expensive.Something similar happened to Bareilly resident Chavinath Singh Gangwal, 57, who was refused admission by the trauma centre on July 16. Gangwal has over 60% fractures all over his body after his motorbike crashed into another bike on route to Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir.
“We paid Rs 10,000 to the ambulance to get him here but no doctor gave him even a second glance. We were here since 6am and now we are heading home. I have to shell out another Rs 10,000 for the ambulance,” said Bimlesh Gangwal, 54, his wife. “We have no choice but go to a private hospital,” she cried.
Official response"We have to turn away patients as we don’t have enough beds. Of the 150 new cases that we get everyday, we can hardly accommodate 30 per cent or even less. At any given point, not even one ICU bed is empty," said Dr MC Misra, chief, AIIMS trauma centre. "Private hospitals need to share the load with government hospitals," he added.
Short storiesShe had three broken ribs
Gurvachan Kaur, 65, run over by two-wheeler
A road accident left 65-year-old Gurvachan Kaur with three broken ribs and multiple fractures in her left leg. She had been run over by a two-wheeler outside her home in south Delhi’s Khanpur. Yet AIIMS trauma centre turned away an unconscious, broken and bleeding Kaur. The excuse: Bed shortage.
“When all our pleading failed, we were forced to move her to Batra Hospital. We knew we could not afford it, but her condition was so poor that we could not take a chance of taking her to another government hospital,” said her son Manjeet Singh.
Despite running up a bill of over Rs 70,000 in three days at Batra Hospital, Kaur’s condition deteriorated, so the family moved her to Delhi government’s Sushruta Trauma Centre.
“When the patient was brought to us, she was unconscious and very critical. The chest injuries had caused her carbon dioxide narcosis, which had led to respiratory and kidney failure,” said a doctor at Sushruta Trauma Centre.
Kaur, currently in the ICU of Sushruta Trauma Centre, is slowly beginning to respond. “AIIMS is a trauma centre just in name. People should go there if they want their relatives to die,” fumed Singh.
She had multiple fractures
Sangeeta Agarwal, 55, hit by a car
Hit by a car and with multiple fractures in her legs, Sangeeta Agarwal arrived at the AIIMS trauma centre, hoping for treatment. But basic first-aid was all she got. “After conducting X-rays and putting bandage, they threw us out. I begged them to admit her as I could not afford treatment in a private hospital, but they told us to leave,” said Maneesh, her husband, a post-office employee.
“They even refused to refer us to a government hospital, such as Safdarjung Hospital or the main AIIMS, for orthopaedic treatment,” said her son Sonu.