Chandigarh's premier institute ailing for want of operation theatre's
Around two years back, the doctors had just sedated a patient for surgery when the main operation theatre light came down crashing in Nehru Hospital. The promptness of the operation theatre staff saved the patient’s life.
When it comes to surgeries, there is a strange paradox at the PGIMER that it is moving in two centuries at the same time.
While usage of half-a-century-old operation theatre equipment fixed with bandages is on the one hand, ultra modern robots performing surgeries are on the other hand.
Making the situation worse is the shortage of operation theatres. For an institute like PGIMER, which performed around 2 lakh surgeries in 2014, there are just six OT complexes.
Inaugurated in 1963, and expanded extensively henceforth, the premier medical institute had one OT complex each at the Advanced Eye Centre, Advanced Paediatric Centre, Advanced Cardiac Centre, Nehru hospital and Emergency until 2010, the year it took care of 1.02 lakh surgeries.
The last addition was at the Advanced Trauma Centre when it was inaugurated in 2011.
Thereafter, the number of surgeries has witnessed a steep hike, with a 20% hike annually in the past five years.
PATIENTS AT RECEIVING END
With the significant hike in the surgeries comes the growing waiting list.
A patient planning to get a gallbladder removed at PGIMER, may have to wait for at least six months; the waiting time goes up to one year in some routine surgeries.
The longest waiting lists for surgeries include hernia repair, gall bladder removal, cataract and prostate repair.
Similarly, even in orthopaedic surgeries, like knee replacement, patients have to wait for three to six months.
The situation is no better even in life-saving surgeries like open-heart bypass surgery, where patients have to wait for at least for two months.
In wake of overburden, the institute has even stopped performing certain surgeries, like the one for piles.
SURGEONS’ SERVICES UNDERUTILISED
It doesn’t end at long waiting lists. When it comes to performing surgeries, senior doctors are found jostling over getting
access to the operation theatres.
Even senior surgeons, including those at the rank of professor, get only one day a week to perform surgeries.
Such is the plight, that the matter has even led to resignations by senior surgeons.
It is a long-pending demand of surgeons from different specialties and super-specialties, including neurosurgery, urology and orthopaedics, to get more days to access the operation theatres.
Amid this scenario, junior faculty are the worst-affected. In certain specialties, junior doctors don’t get any access to the main operation theatre.
A professor from one of the surgical branches, who wished not to be named, said there was no doubt that services of surgeons were underutilised.
“A surgeon’s work is completely different from that of a physician. Unlike a physician, surgeon’s job is much beyond examining and prescribing medicines to patients. If you don’t give a surgeon access to operation theatre, how are you
utilising his or her services?” he questioned.
This year, for the first time a surgeon, Professor TD Yadav, contested the elections of the institute’s faculty association president, and won. He has assured better working conditions for surgeons.