Govt sits on strengthening life support system at GMC associated hospitals

Only 8-bedded SICU at SMHS, facility defunct at SSH & B&J hospital

Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 23 2018 12:57AM | Updated Date: Jul 23 2018 12:57AM
Govt sits on strengthening life support system at GMC associated hospitals

Signifying failure of government to augment life support facilities, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar has just eight-bedded functional surgical intensive care units (SICU) at SMHS hospital here for managing cases from road accidents to emergencies resulting from firearm injuries.

This eight-bedded SICU is used for  handling all kinds of emergency cases like firearm injuries and trauma cases, accidents and even complicacies that arise during normal surgeries. Since 2016 unrest in Kashmir, over 4000 people with firearm injuries were treated in Srinagar hospitals, around 80 percent in GMC associated hospital. 

Scores of these persons had firearm injury in head and had to be sustained on ventilator from a few days to weeks, a senior doctor said. He said given scale of injuries treated at SMHS Hospital it was expected that the medical college, which has administrative control over SMHS, Bone and Joint and Super Specialty Hospitals, the three hospitals which handle firearm injury and accident cases, would upgrade the critical care and life supporting facilities.  The doctor said the ground situation however continues to be dismal.

“These eight life supporting beds in SICU of SMHS Hospital are the only critical care facilities in the GMC run hospitals that people of Kashmir are dependent on in case a need arises due to a road traffic accident, firearm injury or a complicated surgery,” said the doctor.

An official at the GMC said that even though a two-bedded intensive care unit was available at Bone and Joint hospital, it was defunct because no staff had been provided to run it. Patients from this hospital are also referred to SMHS Hospital for ventilator support in case of emergency.

For two years, a well-equipped SICU at GMCs Super Specialty Hospital (SSH), like Bone and Joint Hospital, is yet to be made functional due to “staff shortage”.

To add to this load at SMHS, sometimes critically sick patients from 750-bedded tertiary care maternity hospital Lal Ded are shifted to SMHS to put them on life support system at SICU. The Lal Ded has just two beds with life supporting system.

A senior surgeon of SMHS Hospital said that due to emergencies, many a times patients with life threatening conditions awaiting surgeries are made to wait, sometimes for months, due to lack of life support availability.

“Often we have patients waiting to be operated upon but a surgeon wants a life support system available to ensure survival. We are left with no option but to postpone surgeries,” he said. “Many of these patients have often serious life threatening conditions such as cancer and surgical problems with co-morbidities and complications.”

Though Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura has, in comparison to 850-bedded SMHS, “well developed” ICU facility, the GMC which is one of the oldest medical colleges in India has failed to upgrade standards in this area.

After 2016, SMHS Hospital became the center for trauma care and treatment of firearm injures. “But the authorities have failed to keep pace with requirements,” said a senior doctor who deals with such cases.

There is no intensive care unit in any of the peripheral hospitals, thus making referrals of critical patients to SMHS and SKIMS unavoidable.

The failure of authorities to increase availability of surgical intensive care units in conflict ridden Kashmir, doctors in Kashmir feel, was “like putting lives of people in risk”. “We are constantly in an emergency zone, and people with life threatening emergencies land up at our hospitals every month,” a senior faculty member of GMC Srinagar said.  “At least, authorities can ensure to upgrade infrastructure,” he said.

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