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At breaking point

mumbai Updated: Mar 12, 2010 01:14 IST
Naziya Alvi
Naziya Alvi
Hindustan Times

Last December, when a young girl rammed her car into Kirsu Iyer near the MG Road junction in Goregaon (West), the 68-year-old could not be saved because he did not get medical attention in the crucial minutes after the accident.

That’s because the nearest private hospital that Iyer was first rushed to did not have a trauma care centre, a facility offering comprehensive emergency medical services to patients with traumatic injuries and accident victims. By the time Iyer reached the nearest trauma centre, at Bhagwati Hospital in Borivli, it was too late.

Traffic police records show that on an average, 10,000 people die in road accidents in Mumbai every year — but only six public hospitals in Mumbai have trauma care centres.

Medical experts say the first 10 minutes after an accident are crucial for the victim. Called the “platinum 10 minutes”, this is the window inside which treatment should ideally begin.

The 60-minute period after the accident is called “golden hour”. “Lack of swift medical aid inside this period results in irreversible pathological changes,” explained Dr Madhuri Gore, head of trauma care at LTMG Hospital, Sion.

Arup Patnaik, additional director general, highway safety patrol, said accident casualties could be reduced by almost 50 per cent if victims reached trauma care centres inside the golden hour. “A lot needs to be done to improve the quality of trauma care, especially on our highways,” he said.

Existing centres overburdened

On the Western Express Highway, for the 100 km stretch between Goregaon and Palghar in Thane, there is only one eight-bed trauma care centre, at Borivli’s Bhagwati Hospital. This stretch records a large number of accidents.

“Being the only hospital equipped to handle accidents, we are flooded with patients, some brought in from as far as Thane,” said a senior medical officer at the hospital. On an average, it gets at least four to six seriously injured accident victims every day.

Things are worse along the Eastern Express Highway. The 14-bed trauma care centre at LTMG, Sion, is swamped due to its proximity to both the Eastern and Western highways. This hospital sees at least 10 seriously injured patients and another dozen with minor injuries every day.

The other four trauma care centres are at KEM Hospital in Parel, JJ Hospital in Byculla, Nair Hospital at Mumbai Central, and Rajawadi Hospital at Ghatkopar.

High Dependency Unit

The inadequacy of trauma care often results in overcrowding at existing facilities. Experts say an accident victim must be kept under observation in a trauma care centre for at least three days. Doctors at LTMG said they are forced to move accident patients to the general ward to make space for new patients.

“Ideally, accident victims should be moved to a High Dependency Unit (HDU) that can offer intensive care that transitions them before they are moved to a general ward,” said a senior doctor at the hospital.

LTMG authorities have repeatedly requested the BMC to increase bed strength and create an HDU.

BMC has little to offer

The BMC has done little to address the desperate state of affairs. The much-publicised upcoming trauma care centre at Jogeshwari is likely to miss its August 2011 deadline. Workers are still digging trenches to lay its foundation.

Jogeshwari MLA Ravindra Waikar said the BMC has been mulling over the project for over 18 years. “It was in 1992 that the BMC Development Plan first suggested a hospital on this plot. They’ve begun the project only after our repeated persuasion,” Waikar said.

(With inputs from Megha Sood)