April 26: A 20-minute-old baby was referred from Dum Dum Municipal Hospital to BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children following a mild birth asphyxia. The doctors discharged him after a preliminary look.
A 20-year-old was referred from Murshidabad to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for an appendix surgery.
Armed with instances like these, the government is preparing to move against doctors in district hospitals who evade responsibility and refer patients unnecessarily, clogging premier hospitals in the city.
Director of medical education C.R. Maiti said the health department has received numerous complaints about patients being unnecessarily referred to city hospitals. “The situation is turning from bad to worse. Patients who can be treated at smaller hospitals with ease should not be referred at all. We will put an end to the practise,” Maiti said.
Under instructions from the government, the department has prepared a list of hospitals on the fringes of Calcutta that needlessly refer patients to the city.
Funny as it may seem, more such instances occur ahead of weekends.
The government will also send a circular to all the city hospitals reminding them not to indulge in unnecessary referrals.
Two major hospitals of the city, the Calcutta medical college and BC Roy Memorial, have sent an SOS requesting the government to immediately stop floor admissions and keeping more than one patient in a bed.
In BC Roy Memorial, the authorities feel the pressure of patients is increasing manifold because of “unnecessary referrals”.
The new-born referred by doctors of the Dum Dum hospital on April 20 was diagnosed at BC Roy to be suffering from a common problem. To treat such cases, doctors said, observation by a competent physician and radiant warmers would have been enough.
“The doctors said we had to take the child to BC Roy immediately and that his condition was unstable,” said Sushanta Majumdar, an uncle.
Officials at the municipal hospital said they did not have the “infrastructure” to tackle the condition. “The baby was having breathing problems immediately after birth. We have only one paediatrician who is not full-time. So we did not want to take chances,” said one of them.
Government records say at least one patient out of four need not have been referred from other hospitals and nursing homes. In the medicine and neo-natal wards of BC Roy, three babies are forced to share a bed. Officials said more than 200 patients share 170 general beds.
“Many serious patients have to share beds because of the referrals,” said M.K. Chatterjee, the medical superintendent of the hospital. Such referrals take their toll of the hospital infrastructure. “If they are stopped, mortality can be minimised,” he added.
“Everyday, we get at least 25-30 patients in each department who can easily get treatment at the local health centres or hospitals. Everybody seems to be passing the buck,” said Calcutta medical college superintendent Rabindranath Chattopadhyay.
Patients have been pouring in from as far away as Birbhum, Purulia and Murshidabad with ailments like hernia and fever or for gall bladder surgery.