The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that the standards have to be set regarding the working hours of doctors and the doctor-patient ratio in hospitals.
The suggestion came from a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar after it was told by a private body, tasked to evaluate healthcare quality in the three hospitals in Delhi, that doctors work for excessive hours and there was no set doctor-patient ratio.
The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH), a private body which comes under the Quality Council of India (QCI), told the court that the three hospitals it had examined were overcrowded and several sanctioned posts of doctors were lying vacant. The NABH, in its report placed before the bench, said there was a lack of integration of information technology programme between the out-patient departments (OPD) and laboratories leading to long queues for giving samples, collecting reports, visiting doctors and going to the pharmacy for medication.
The bench, thereafter, directed the Centre and the Delhi government to inform it on the next date about the steps taken or suggestions for rectifying the deficiencies pointed out in the report. On the issue of overcrowding, the NABH said in the Safdarjung Hospital there were 1,531 sanctioned beds and 300 floor beds, yet it had admitted 2,148 patients as it cannot deny admission and this can result in the spread of infections.
The court had ordered an evaluation of the healthcare quality at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung Hospital and the LNJP Hospital as it was of the view that the Centre was “not placing” the correct picture before it regarding the same. The bench had decided to examine the healthcare quality and working conditions of medical professionals in the hospitals in the national capital while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by it after perusing a news report on the rise in violent attacks on doctors.
The NABH, in its report, has given various suggestions for reducing the flare-ups between patients’ families and doctors. It has suggested increasing the number of support staff like nurse assistants and ward boys, training all medical staff in advanced life support system and counseling and stationing adequate security personnel at critical locations.
It has also suggested giving wide publicity to the punishments for violence against medical personnel.
The NABH also suggested making the hospitals more friendly towards patients by improving signage, creating grievance handling at multiple locations.