An unidentified accident victim is being treated for a severe head injury at Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) trauma centre’s neurosurgery ward for the last four months. Now, he is ready for discharge. But, neither anybody knows his name or address, nor he is in a condition to say or write anything. So, what happens to unknown patients? Here’s a look.
Who are called unknown patients?
An unknown patient is one who is unconscious and has no family member accompanying him/her to the hospital. Such patients are mostly accident victims and brought to the hospital by police. At PGI, as soon as a patient reaches Advance Trauma Centre or emergency, the institute immediately sends an information to the police post, PGI, for locating his or her address.
What happens when such a patient is admitted to PGIMER?
The patient is admitted under unknown patient category. Treatment is immediately given to the patient, depending on his condition. PGI also takes help of the members of local NGOs to take care of such patients.
Who bears the medical expenditure in such cases?
Irrespective of the cost involved, including medical examinations, surgeries or medicines, the entire treatment is free for such patients from the time they are admitted to the hospital till he or she is fit to be discharged.
What is the number of unknown patients received by the institute on an average?
The institute keeps receiving such patients on a regular basis. PGI’s Advance Trauma Centre nodal officer Dr Sameer Aggarwal told Chandigarh Newsline that around 10 unknown patients are received every week there. Most of them are identified at a later stage when they regain consciousness or their kin reach hospital after the police inform them.
What is the mechanism to trace the family members of such a patient?
PGI posts such patients’ pictures on the institute’s website and inform Chandigarh Police to check if they have got any missing report about the person that matches his or her description.
What happens when an unknown patient is ready to be discharged?
After discharge, if the patient is able to give his address, he/she is sent to the given location by assistant public relations officer. If the patient has no family, he/she is shifted to Prabh Asra, run by an NGO, for further care. The PGI officials said that in some of the cases, even if the family is located, it abandons the patient due to financial constraints.
What if an unknown patient dies at the institute?
The police are informed about the case. The photograph of the patient is published in newspaper and even then if no one comes forward to claim the body, the last rites are performed with the help of the NGOs.