The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Admit bar after refusal ban

With 300 beds short because of repairs and more than 1,400 patients to treat every day, 350 of them on the floor of various wards, something like this was just waiting to happen at SSKM Hospital.

At Medical College and Hospital, the other leading state-run hospital, there are “only 40 patients on the floor”, clearly establishing the kind of pressure SSKM is constantly under.

Badal Chakraborty, who arrived at SSKM from Garbeta on Saturday morning, shuttled between the medical renal unit, the nephrology department and the emergency wing, only to be told that there was not even floor space available for him to be admitted.

What the senior medical officer on duty, Krishna Naskar, told Chakraborty’s family members was the truth. The hospital’s wards were full and even doctors were having a tough time making their way through a ward.

Chakraborty’s family members, of course, could not fathom how the apex state-run hospital in Bengal could be so woefully short of beds — and floor space.

Resident doctors in the main block of SSKM on Sunday squarely blamed the recent government directive of “no refusals at SSKM” for the manner of Chakraborty’s death and the violent aftermath.

“You cannot treat a patient under such conditions. A patient had to be refused, today or tomorrow. It is sad that a patient as serious as him (Chakraborty suffered chronic renal failure) had to be the victim,” observed a senior physician on Sunday.

The newly-appointed deputy superintendent from Cooch Behar district hospital, Partha Sarathi Bhattacharya, admitted that there were far too many patients being treated on the floor of various wards. “It is difficult to move around the ward… But we will sort out these problems very soon,” added Bhattacharya.

Following the death of Susmita Biswas, the 20-year-old victim of medical negligence at SSKM, director of medical education C.R. Maity had directed the hospital authorities not to refuse any patient. Every patient was to be admitted, read the diktat, even if that meant putting up extra beds in wards or making space on the floor.

The hospital authorities had been sticking to the directive, but Chakraborty’s family was the one to suffer, when there was really no more space to accommodate another patient.

“There are nearly 30 patients on the floor in every department of the hospital, including surgery, neurosurgery, medicine and nephrology,” said officials.

The space jam has made it difficult to even administer basic treatment tools like a drip. There is an acute shortage of stands and, often, a patient’s relative or a nurse is left holding the saline bottle.

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