Where burns patients are treated in the general ward

Red tape stalls work on dedicated building for burns unit at KIMS

Where burns patients are treated in the general ward

Worn-out bedsheets and curtains, ripped beds and unkempt rooms. That’s the burns ward at the state-run Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), the lifeline of poor patients in northern part of the State.

Tucked in a corner of male and female general wards is this eight-bed “unit” to treat burns patients, who have high risk of contracting infection. Doctors have no option but to attend to the patients with these abysmal facilities. A dedicated building for the burns ward on the KIMS campus lies half-complete for the last four years, mainly because of bureaucratic apathy and red tape.

On an average, the burns ward treats 40-50 critical patients every month, most of which are medico-legal cases. The survival chance of patients having more than 40 per cent burns decreases if proper care is not given and asepsis not maintained. That burns patients are housed and treated along with other patients in the general wards also leads to higher mortality.

The KIMS administration has created a makeshift burns ward, but this one too is no different from other general wards as far as the facilities are concerned.

“My aunt was made to sleep in the so-called special burns ward which does not even have a fan, leave alone other facilities. People spit right next to the intensive burns ward,” said Wasim Khan, a relative of a woman who was recently brought to KIMS from Haveri with 85 per cent burns. She died later.

Senior doctors and postgraduate students at KIMS admit there are hardly any facilities at the burns ward, though two full-time plastic surgeons are available to treat patients.

Bureaucratic apathy
The situation could have been different had the State government promptly forwarded to KIMS a reminder sent by the Centre in February 2012. The 2012 letter — a copy of which is with Deccan Herald — reminds the State government of its non-responsiveness to the implementation of the National Programme for Prevention and Management of Burn Injuries, which was sanctioned in the 12th five-year plan. The Centre had asked the Karnataka government to send a list of medical colleges that can join the programme.

The Union government had allocated Rs 4,24.37 crore under the ‘Human resources in health and medical education scheme’ for providing building, equipment and other facilities in 67 state government medical colleges across India. But the State government didn’t respond to that letter. It sent a copy of the letter to KIMS only on December 4, 2015.

Second missed chance
Meanwhile, KIMS received the State government’s approval to construct three speciality blocks on its campus, one of which was burns ward. The burns ward was to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 2.11 crore in 2011. But in 2012, the Medical Council of India suggested alterations and additions to the plan. The budget was then revised to Rs 3.79 crore. Snags and approval delays by the State government, however, held up the work for nearly two years from 2012. Finally, the work started in 2015 but bureaucratic intervention stalled it again.

A highly placed source in KIMS suggested that bureaucrats, mostly posted in Bengaluru, did not respond to the revised budget. Even though the contractor was ready to complete the civic work at the 2011 rate, officials were not ready to accept that and asked for a fresh tender to be called.

“If the old contractor is given the green signal to finish the construction at the 2011 cost, the building will be ready within three months,” the source said, requesting anonymity. The matter is now before the Cabinet for approval. If the tender is called again, the project will cost at least 30 per cent more than the 2011 rate.

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