Equipment and manpower has to be juggled just to keep two of the five emergency operation theatres (OT) functional at the Lok Nayak Hospital, which has been chosen as the designated hospital for any eventuality during the ongoing Indo-African summit.
There is only one fully-functional suction machine, which is used to remove blood, mucous and other body fluids during a surgery; and one cautery machine, which is used to close off an open cut to stop bleeding that is shared by the operation theatres. Only three anaesthesiology residents have been deployed for the five OTs.
“We just have enough equipment to keep one OT working and if we are lucky we manage to borrow equipment from other departments to run another one. There have been times when three or more of the OTs were vacant, the doctors were present, but, we had to let a patient bleed for hours because there was no equipment,” a doctor said.
At any given time, around 12 patients await their turn to get an emergency surgery at the hospital.
Also, because there is no backup, there have been times when none of the OTs was functional. “We have only one machine, if it malfunctions between a surgery, we have no plan B. At times, patients with HIV and Hepatitis are also operated upon here and the whole OT needs to be sterilised after such a surgery, then we have to make the other patients wait,” the doctor said.
To overcome the crisis, six suction machines had been purchased around six months back, but, all of them have stopped working, according to sources.
“We receive a deluge of patients and the machines have to keep functioning throughout the day, which is why they stop working within months. The company which supplied the machines refused to repair them as they have already received their payment and it is not possible for the hospital to purchase more machines,” a staff at the hospital said.
Resources from the already stressed department are being diverted for creating a new neurosurgery OT. “Earlier this month, we received an order to make the neurosurgery OT functional within two days. No purchases had been made for this OT and we had to divert not just manpower, but also equipment from the emergency OTs to create an OT for elective surgeries,” a doctor said.
“This is not a question of resources being diverted. The equipment belongs to the hospital and can be shifted wherever it is needed. If there is an emergency during the summit, all five OTs can be made functional. Right now, I am waiting for the PWD to do renovation work in the OTs, after which all of them will be made functional,” said Dr YK Sarin, the medical superintendent of the hospital.
The emergency OTs had two suction machines before October 8, when the neurosurgery OT was made functional.
Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital, which is just across the road, has well-equipped neurosurgery OTs.