Feb. 13: A dearth of healthcare personnel with specialised training to tackle patients with burn injuries and the legal hassles associated with such cases is what prevents most hospitals here from having burn care units.
Nemcare is the only hospital here specialising in burn care and has a separate unit for these cases. With Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), which has an eight-bed special unit, is ill-equipped to treat patients with severe burn injuries, Hayat Hospitals, has a special unit for the purpose.
The GMCH has, however, completed construction of a 12-bed burn care unit recently.
Nemcare managing director Dr Hitesh Baruah said, “We have specialised in burn care since the past 10 years. At present, we have a six-bed specialised burn care unit together with a four-bed ICU for burn patients in our hospital. When a patient with any degree of burns arrives at our hospital, the initial dressing is done in the ICU followed by admission in the burn unit. So far, we have treated patients with up to 60-70 per cent burns.”
GMCH superintendent Ramen Talukdar said, “We will be inaugurating a 12-bed specialised fully-equipped burn care unit along with a skin bank soon.”
Hayat public relations officer Manoj Deka said, “We have a separate burn care unit in our hospital. Since patients suffering from burns have a great chance of incurring secondary infections that may turn life threatening, care is taken to keep the burn care unit sterilised. So far, we have treated patients with upto 80 per cent burns.”
He said one of the patients treated at the hospital had sustained 80 per cent chemical burns.
“Hospitals can open burn care units but they should have trained manpower for dressing the wounds. Caring for burn patients is a long process as a patient needs special care to recover.”
According to doctors, the recovery of a burn patient depends on the nature and degree of burn injuries sustained. In some cases, a person with 50 per cent burns may survive if the injuries are not deep but even a person with 30 per cent burns may die if these are deep and have affected vital organs of the body. Chances of secondary infections are also very high in burn injuries. The chances of recovery are good if skin grafting can be carried out on the burnt area.
“Treating burn patients is teamwork where we need skilled doctors, paramedical staff and nurses to take care of them. The treatment procedure is tedious, with the wounds requiring frequent dressing, which a trained person can do. At times, the dressing has to be in place for months,” Baruah said.
“Burn cases are usually medico-legal cases and whenever we receive a case, we have to inform police as burns may be sustained during accidents and suicide or murder attempts. Medico-legal cases are something that people wish to avoid,” he said.
A source said, “Most nursing homes do not prefer to open burn care units as it is not considered profitable. Burn care is costly and a patient with severe burns may have to stay in the hospital for a couple of months. The medical expenditure of treating burns may go into lakhs of rupees, which common people are not able to afford.”