June 6: Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) allows only one attendant to stay with a patient admitted in the hospital, making it difficult for a single attendant to look after the patient and run around doing other work like buying medicines and getting medical tests done at the same time.
Take the instance of a patient undergoing treatment at the female ward on the second floor. She is sick and requires an attendant to be by her side round the clock. But the attendant also has to collect the medical reports and buy medicines. With no other person to assist him, he must leave the patient alone and rush to the drugstore or the counter where medical reports are given. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the nearest drugstore and return to the particular ward.
“My 78-year-old mother was admitted in the medicine ward a few months ago as she was suffering from old-age ailments. I was the only one taking care of her at night as more than one person was not allowed to stay with a patient. At times, her condition deteriorated at night and I had to leave her alone and rush downstairs to buy medicines, all the while praying that nothing happens to her during my absence. Though the nurses were there, they had to take care of other patients admitted in the general ward,” said Amulya Bora, an attendant.
Hospital authorities, meanwhile, cite lack of space as well as hospital-acquired infections to be the prime cause behind not allowing more than one attendant per patient at present.
“We have about 2,500 patients undergoing treatment in different wards. Already, the rush of patients is increasing with every passing day and our doctors are trying their best to accommodate as many as can be possible because we cannot refuse to treat the ailing. But if more than one attendant is allowed per patient, then the wards will be overcrowded, making it difficult for doctors to do their work,” said GMCH superintendent Ramen Talukdar.
“Moreover, there have been instances where four–five visitors come and surround the patient. Here, the chances of the ailing incurring infections increase as he comes into contact with visitors who usually carry a lot of germs along with them. The visitors, too, can acquire infections from the patients, thus increasing the load of sick individuals. There have also been occasions when visitors have been caught entering wards in drunken state. However, in critical cases, more attendants per patient are allowed,” added Talukdar.
A senior doctor said, “We are considering the issue of allowing more than a single attendant per person. But many factors have to be taken into account, the prime being hospital-acquired infection.”