Surgery denied to woman at Bowring, baby dies in womb

Hospital says staff crunch has forced them to make do with one OT

 A baby died in the womb after the staff at the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital could not perform a timely surgery on the mother in the wee hours of Friday.

The relatives of the mother staged a protest outside the hospital alleging negligence by the hospital staff. Her husband Syed Afroz was told by the doctors that the baby was doing fine Thursday night. Later, when the mother, Nazeema, developed complications, it was found the baby had suffered meconium aspiration syndrome (passing first stool and ingesting it).

“There were hardly any doctors to take care of my wife. A medical student was attending to her. Serious negligence on the part of the health staff led to my child’s death,” Afroz said.

Nazeema’s baby could have been saved had the health staff opened another operation theatre (OT) to operate on the patient. According to doctors at the hospital, due to lack of staff nurses, anaesthetists, the Obstetrics and Gynaecology (OBG) department ran only one OT in the past one month.

When Nazeema developed labour pain in the night, she could not be operated on as there was another patient in the OT. The hospital staff had suggested to Nazeema’s family to shift her to Vani Vilas Hospital, but they had refused. Since there was a delay in performing surgery on Nazeema, her child died in the womb, hospital sources said.

On Friday afternoon, another patient, Kavitha, developed labour pain in the hospital and was waiting for a bed to be allotted to her. As all the beds were occupied, the hospital staff referred her to Vani Vilas, but her family, too, refused to shift Kavitha from Bowring.

“My daughter-in-law came to Bowring for all her check-ups during pregnancy and wanted her delivery to also happen in the same hospital. If we take her to another hospital, the doctor there may not co-operate in delivering the baby,” said Shamala, Kavitha’s mother-in-law.

Doctors at the hospital said they were doing their best in catering to patients’ needs, but to open another OT, there should be a set of staff available to perform surgeries. With a huge staff crunch, the hospital is capable of performing only emergency surgeries. Of the 20 OTs, only four are functioning currently.

Six deaths have been reported in the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital in the last one month due to staff crunch. There are 132 nurses working on contract in the hospital, who have boycotted work demanding regularisation of their services. It is not just nurses. Bowring is also facing a shortage of anaesthetists, one reason why another OT had not been opened.

Bowring is functioning with just 57 nurses and 79 doctors, including doctors on contract. The hospital receives 15-20 delivery cases daily, but has only one OT functioning.
Hospitals like Victoria, Vani Vilas and Minto also face similar problems. At Vani Vilas, of the 122 nurses on contract, 115 have boycotted work.

The hospital is functioning with 95 regular nurses and seven contract nurses. Dr Some Gowda, medical superintendent of the hospital, said they were not able to execute any elective surgeries and were barely managing to perform emergency surgeries.

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