It was a suicide threat by a desperate patient that finally got the authorities at Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical sciences (SKIMS) to listen to his plea and act. Firdous Ahmad,25,lying in Intensive Care Unit of SKIMS on Saturday after his operation,made four uneventful trips to the operation theatre for a valve replacement surgery over past 46 days.
He was even given anaesthesia once but had to return to the ward without surgery because the theatre had to be “cleared for an influential patient”.
“It is only a suicide threat which can get a poor man treated in this big hospital. No one cares about us otherwise,” says Shabir Ahmad Bhat,neighbour and attendant of Ahmad. “Had Firdous not threatened to end his life,no doctor would have passed by his bed”.
Ahmad,a salesman at a shop in Dafpora in Budgam district suffered from a cardiac problem and needed an open heart metal valve transfer.
“We had been waiting for the surgery for two months now but no one took any notice. We even went home once after getting tired of this waiting,” said Bhat. “This time,Firdous could not bear this illness and waiting and decided to end his life. We were really afraid that Firdous might try to kill himself.” A patient had earlier committed suicide by hanging himself from the bathroom ceiling.
Director SKIMS,Abdul Hameed Zargar,said that he was unaware of this incident. “I came to know only today that there was such a case in my hospital and we took action,” says Zargar.
Private practice is seen as a major reason for ill treatment and negligence to patients in SKIMS. The patients claim that the doctors bring their private patients to the hospital at the expense of poor patients. “The big doctors devote most of their time to private practice and no one cares about us,” says an attendant.
Doctor Zargar,however,refuted the allegations saying even if it was going on,it was beyond his knowledge. “If anything illegal is happening in the hospital,it is not my job to look at it by law. My job here as Director is to look at current events in the hospital and
postulate for the future.”
Ahmad had been admitted to SKIMS on December 4. Since then,he was taken 4 times to the theatre but was never operated. Once,he was also administered anesthesia but again shifted to a ward without surgery.
“The surgery cost around a lakh rupees and Firdous is very poor and somehow we managed the money,” says Bhat. “His parents died when he was about 8 years old and since then he has been supporting his five sisters. But when he had to lay here in pain with one no one even caring,he started talking about killing himself.”