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Heavy patient flow, doctor shortage led to infant deaths in Kota


NEW DELHI: A central team sent by the Union Health Ministry to probe the high number of infant deaths at a Kota hospital last month, has found that shortage of medical personnel, including doctors, nurses and paramedics, in comparison to high patient load, could be the real culprit.

Ironically, the team in its report, seen by this newspaper, has raised question over attaching the district hospital with a medical college in the city — a model that the government’s top think tank Niti Aayog is pushing throughout the country.

The team, however, observed that such a model results in poor patient care quality as the focus is mainly on fulfilling the teaching requirements but not delivering quality healthcare.

“We noted that in the hospital, only minimum number of doctors and other staff are posted which was required to teach 150 MBBS students as per the Medical Council of India norms-while the rush of patients is like a district hospital and that’s why despite best of their intentions, doctors are failing to save lives,” said a committee member requesting anonymity.

The experts also noted that the number of deaths at the hospital has marginally declined every year since 2014 and has remained in the range of 7-8% against total hospitalisation.

Over 107 newborns and infants had died in Kota’s J K Lon Hospital, attached with the local government medical college since 1992, last month, triggering a nationwide outrage.

The four-member team, which was led by Dr Kuldeep Singh, a senior faculty from AIIMS Jodhpur, noted that while the hospital had nearly 220% occupancy rate, there was an acute shortage of medical personnel — up to 80 per cent — given the heavy patient load.

The other members of the panel who carried out joint gap analysis along with the state government in terms of clinical protocols, service delivery, manpower availability and equipment for maternal, newborn and paediatric care services included Dr Deepak Saxena, senior regional director in the state health ministry; Dr Arun Singh of AIIMS, Jodhpur and Dr Himanshu Bhushan of the National Health Systems Resource Centre.

The team also took note of a heavy shortage of several life-saving equipment in the hospital, a fact that the hospital had admitted in its own report to the state government.

Incidentally, the observations by the team, which are yet to be released, have come at a time when the Niti Aayog has proposed a public-private partnership model that will see existing district hospitals getting attached to private medical colleges.

The move is facing stiff resistance from public health activists who feel that such a model will make health inaccessible to a majority of the population.