Patients admitted to Sir JJ Hospital at Byculla will be allowed only one visitor henceforth.
The recent attack on doctors — a mob allegedly manhandled two doctors after a patient’s death on January 8 — compelled authorities at the state-run hospital to strictly enforce a pass system like private hospitals do.
“Only one pass will be issued to each patient’s family, which means only one relative/visitor can enter the hospital at a time,” said Medical Superintendent Dr H. Jadhav. The rule will be relaxed only during visiting hours, 4.30 pm to 6 pm.
JJ Hospital had introduced the pass system in 2006, too, but it fizzled out within days.
On January 8, around 25 friends and relatives of Dongri resident Shahid Abdul Rehman (50) roughed up Dr Prashant Bhan (26) and Dr Priti Gupta (24) when he died of multi-organ failure shortly after he was admitted to the medicine ward. Resident doctors had protested after the incident.
Doctors felt that restricting the number of visitors was essential for the efficient functioning of the hospital. “Usually, the presence of relatives inside wards is a major hindrance,” said Dr Alka Deshpande, who heads JJ’s medicine department.
Several patients from rural areas come to Mumbai’s government hospitals for treatment. Lack of cheap accommodation near the hospitals often forces their relatives to sleep in hospital corridors or camp on the pavement outside.
A senior doctor pointed out that spouses and children often sit on patients’ beds through the day. “They also use the toilets and other facilities meant for patients,” he said.
Dr Sanjay Oak, dean of KEM Hospital and director of two other civic hospitals, said it is important for people to understand that hospitals are not a “pleasant meeting place” for catching up with relatives. “More than 23,000 people visit KEM between 4 pm and 6 pm every evening. People should visit the patient at home after they are discharged,” he said.
JJ Hospital is also trying to get more security guards. It currently has 63, but needs 165 more. “We have communicated this to the Directorate of Medical Education and Research,” said JJ Hospital Dean Dr R.S. Inamdar. He added that they would post more guards at ‘sensitive’ spots such as the casualty, critical and intensive care units.
Incidentally, mob attacks have been a problem in Delhi too. Last year, most government hospitals there heightened security after several instances of patients’ family members beating up doctors. Some Delhi hospitals installed CCTVs to help police identify attackers.
However, hospital authorities in Delhi say the one-visitor-per-patient policy would be difficult to implement there because of a staff shortage, cramped waiting rooms, poor security and high costs of rented accommodation outside hospitals for outstation patients.
“We are forced to allow two or more family members to accompany the patient,” said Dr Amit Banerjee, medical superintendent, Lok Nayak Hospital.
A medical superintendent at another hospital said on condition of anonymity, “If we could give relatives confidence that their patient will be well looked after, this problem will be solved.”
Inputs from Jaya Shroff in New Delhi