When Pratim Haldar was rushed to the emergency room of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, after he suffered multiple bouts of vomiting, his family members were surprised when guards ushered them through a different gate.
Inside, they saw about 60-70 people being attended by doctors, even as a doctor examined Pratim’s vitals and called out: “This is a green”. Pratim found himself clutching a green coin and a medical card, as nurses got him started on drips.
The ‘triage system’ — implemented this year — is an attempt to streamline the provision of medical care in one of the most crowded emergency rooms in the capital. The hospital has introduced a coin system for speedy identification of patients and the nature of their ‘emergency’. As per universal triage standards, green, yellow and red classifies patients in terms of increasing order of medical urgency.
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“On an average, of a footfall of 900-1,000 patients a day in our emergency room, only 400-500 are those who are in danger of losing their life or limbs, or in medical terms, cases of critical emergencies. Others are routine patients,” said Dr Sunil Kumar, medical director of the hospital.
So the number of patients who end up in the critical section of the emergency room — those in the ‘red’ category — has gone down drastically.
While the system has reduced waiting time, specific changes have been made in the ‘red area’, where seriously ill patients are taken. In the doctors’ bay, resident doctors from surgery, orthopaedics, medicine and neurosurgery are posted now. When a patient arrives, a physician evaluates the person, and the specialist concerned takes over after that.
However, patients say many issues still need to be resolved for those awaiting treatment. “The guards start directing us to the green area even before we can see a doctor. You have to fight to get the chance to consult with a good doctor, otherwise they dismiss you as a non-serious patient,” said Sarla Devi, as she lay on a stretcher.
“This is a new system and we are trying to fix problems as they emerge.,” said Dr Kumar.
The Delhi government is now working on a complete overhaul of emergency rooms in eight major hospitals, based on the GTB experience.