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Neurosurgery department does not function, doctors fear assault

health-and-fitness Updated: Nov 03, 2009 22:52 IST

Hindustan Times
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Forty-year-old Mangal Chowdhury (name changed) hurt his head. He would have lived had the CT scan been done and the treatment begun at DDU’s Department of Neurosurgery on time. But that was not to be.

The CT scan machine could not run due to a power failure. Chowdhury ultimately died of a brain haemorrhage.
The department has one neurosurgeon, one assistant, three junior residents and one nurse. Advised by the authority to not admit patients, they do little all day.

The department has no qualified radiologist. The CT Scan and MRI machines can’t be run without a radiologist. A technician doubles as a radiologist on the few occasions when the machines function.

“There are no facilities for out-patients with neurological problems and we have been advised not to admit patients,” said Dr Subodh Kumar Gupta, the only neurosurgeon at DDU.

“We assist other departments with neurological support. I have just performed one surgery in the last two months.”
Gupta is one of the just four neurosurgeons in 34 government hospitals in Delhi.

Infections galore

The stench and stains of vomit and urine coupled with a teeming crowd of patients mark the waiting area of the hospital’s outpatient department (OPD).

Hundreds queue up in front of the OPD registration counter every day.
“We have no choice but to wait our turn. Clean places (hospitals) are expensive,” said Ram Autar, 38, a resident of Beadon Pura, near Karol Bagh.

He was at Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital to get his pregnant wife examined.
Used bandages and cotton pads outside the intensive care unit attract dogs who are so much a part of the building now, the guards don’t even bother to shoo them away.

“The risk of infection scares us,” said Malti Gupta, a resident of Karol Bagh, whose mother-in-law was admitted in the hospital.

The screening centre for H1N1 — or swine flu — suspects is situated in the casualty block bang in the middle of the hospital. That’s also the place where accident victims and the critically-ill, who are more vulnerable to the risk of infections, land up.

Under government guidelines, H1N1 screening has to be carried out in an isolated room that has separate entry and exit points to minimise the spread of infection among other patients and visitors. This rule, too, is given a miss at the hospital.

Vulnerable doctors

The condition of doctors is no better. The hospital is notorious for doctors going on strikes after dissatisfied families of patients get violent.

Over 300 resident doctors went on strike three times in 2008 over inadequate security.
Around 50 guards man the hospital currently. The number is not adequate to deal with angry patients and their families, the doctors complain.

“If the hospital does not have the infrastructure to treat patients, what can we do?” a senior resident doctor said on the condition of anonymity.