Critical patients seeking admission in the medical wards of public hospitals in Rawalpindi are unable to do so, the reason being a disproportionate number of dengue patients. A majority of beds and facilities are being utilised to attend to the epidemic.
Even the number of doctors available for ‘other’ patients has decreased with the dengue onslaught.
According to figures collected from hospital sources, in the last two weeks, 462 critical patients were refused admission in the three main public hospitals, Holy Family Hospital (HFH), Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ).
A bed is being shared by two patients in the emergency wards of these hospitals. Critical patients who need to be admitted in medical wards, for liver, kidney, pulmonary, gastroenteritis or other problems, are being discharged earlier than normal. “They are told to come back again after a few days,” said an official, on the condition of anonymity.
The cardiac ward at BBH has been converted into a dengue-fever ward, with no alternative given to the cardiac department, he added.
At DHQ, the male ward has been shifted to the medical ward and the male ward is now being used to treat dengue patients. About 75 per cent of the beds have been allocated for dengue-fever patients and the rest for “very critical” patients.
“I have been trying to get a bed for my father since 3 am. He has acute paralysis following a stroke and high-blood pressure. He is in the emergency ward of BBH where two patients are sharing one bed,” said Jamshed Qureshi. “His condition is very critical and he cannot be moved somewhere else. His treatment will only start after he gets his own bed,” he added.
Sajida Bibi*, 56, suffered a heart attack two days ago and saw her treatment halted due to teh shortage of beds in the cardiac department.
“My mother was discharged due to shortage of beds at BBH and asked to come back again, I hope this does not affect her condition,” said Irshad Ahmed.
BBH Medical Registrar Dr Muhammad Haroon, who is also chairman of the Young Doctors Association-Punjab, said, “A majority of the beds in medical wards are occupied by dengue patients in the public hospitals leaving no option for other patients.”
DHQ Medical Superintendent Dr Muhammad Abbas added, “A majority of the dengue fever patients are admitted even though their symptoms are relatively minor and they can be treated as outpatients. This in turn created the shortage of beds.”
“The responsibility lies with the administrations of the hospitals and the government. They have not provided any alternative arrangements to adjust other patients,” he said.
Being critical of the provincial government, Dr Haroon said that the Punjab Government has recruited 1,000 additional nurses for dengue patients but not a single doctor.
When contacted, Allied Hospitals In-charge Professor (Dr) Afzal Farooqui flatly denied the shortage of beds.
“The patients saying that they are not getting beds in the medical wards are lying,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2011.
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