Poor staff training, vacancies galore: Reasons why Mumbai’s public hospitals are not up to the mark

Grave incidents like this point to insufficient training to paramedical staff, which in the past, has led to serious medical complications or in instances like this, loss of life.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published: March 17, 2016 2:37:48 am
 mumbai hospitals, hospitals in mumbai, KEM hospital, KEM hospital OPD, emergency in KEM hospital, KEM hospital labour union, poor staff training in KEM hospital, mumbai news KEM hospital.

A 75-YEAR-OLD was found dead inside the hospital toilet at the KEM hospital’s Out Patient Department (OPD) on Wednesday morning. Probe revealed he had been accidentally locked inside a stinking toilet in the hospital for over 15 hours due to the negligence of a hospital nurse. Grave incidents like this point to insufficient training to paramedical staff, which in the past, has led to serious medical complications or in instances like this, loss of life. This also points to the lack of first response SOPs the private hospitals insist upon, unlike public hospitals where shortage of staff sees additional burden with lack of accountability.

The man’s body was found sprawled inside the toilet cubicle by a ward boy, who unlocked the first floor OPD ward attached to the toilet. Throughout Tuesday, the deceased’s relatives kept searching for him everywhere possible on the hospital premises and made rounds of several police stations.

While the hospital dean Dr Avinash Supe said it is suspected that the man, Dattatray Kamble, a resident of Currey Road, died due to heart attack while passing stool, his relatives claim it must the shock of being found locked with no one to hear his voice must have led to his death. “Something like this cannot be imagined in a private hospital. There should be some accountability of ensuring the patient’s safety in government hospitals,” said Kishor Kamble, Dattatray’s relative. According to the deceased’s son Sunil Kamble, Dattatray had no history of cardiac problem.

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Dattatray had visited KEM for his wife’s routine test of kidney Tuesday. At around 4 pm, he asked her to wait near the medicine counter while he went to washroom. On finding the ground floor washroom locked, he went to the first floor one. At 4 pm, without checking if anyone was inside, a nurse locked the first floor ward connected to the washroom and left. The on-duty ward boy was absent.

Until 11 pm Tuesday, Dattatray’s son struggled to locate him. The security team of the hospital did little to check the hospitals toilets despite being informed that was the last place Dattatray was headed to.

The BMC-run hospitals are facing an acute shortage of class III and class IV employees. Of the sanctioned 2,000 posts for sweepers, ward boys and clerks, there are about 300 vacancies at KEM hospital. With the massive burden of attending a large number of patients everyday, the employees have turned negligent .

Unlike private hospitals, where the employees undergo training for handling patients and hospital management, government hospitals provide no such training to the unqualified class IV staff that they appoint.

“These are uneducated men who are appointed and directly put on job. There is zero training. And they do not have any medical know-how,” a member of KEM Labour Union said. The on-duty nurse reportedly did not check if the toilets were occupied.

Admitting the lapse, Supe said, “Not that we could have saved him, but there will be an enquiry into how he was locked inside.” The body of Dattatray was recovered at 7 am Wednesday. A call went to his family at 10 am.

According to Dattatray’s relative Kishor, the hospital authorities had no time to pay heed to their complaint. “The help desk did not help either,” he said. With thousands of patients visiting the hospital from across the country every day, there is a need of filling vacant posts, training staff on patient handling and on hospital management.

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