With just two CT scan machines for over 120 to 150 patients who pour in every day, the casualty ward of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) has a perpetually long queue of patients. Most of them are severe trauma injuries waiting for medical attention. Being the only largest trauma centre in Bangalore, the Institute is grappling to handle the situation.
The NIMHANS casualty ward has 90 per cent of patients requiring a CT scan, resulting in greater waiting periods. One of the latest to be affected by delayed emergency treatment was Jyothi Uday. After she was brutalised at the ATM kiosk, she was brought to NIMHANS around 11 am on November 19. Her husband C Uday Kumar says the ward was too crowded when they went and that she could have lost her life waiting for the queue to move.
“We had to stand in long queues for the registration and to get her brain scan done. Her injuries were very serious and she was bleeding, but no one paid any attention. Treatment delayed is treatment denied. I wanted my wife alive, so we shifted her to another hospital,” Uday says.
A nurse, who showed this reporter around the place, says, “We have to handle all the cases with two machines. The scanning machine in the basement is only used if the number of patients is higher than usual. We try and scan all the patients in the machine located on the ground floor. Patients stream in the whole day. We prioritise them based on the seriousness of the injury and send them to neurology and neurosurgery sections.”
Patients at the ward told Express on Saturday that they had to wait at least three hours before seeing a doctor at the casualty section even if injuries are grievous. Standing outside the casualty ward around 3 pm on Saturday was Manjunatha Reddy. He had been at the hospital since 6 am with his brother Santosh Reddy, who is epileptic.
“Doctors don’t immediately attend to us. The triage section is so crowded all the time. People wait for hours. Even in the OPD section, only three out of 10 doctors are in their rooms and this delays things further,” Reddy says.
Dr V L Sateesh, Medical Superintendent of NIMHANS, said that Jyothi Uday was treated for a very short period in the casualty section and that she was discharged on request as her relatives wanted her to be treated only in a corporate hospital.
“There is a general notion that government hospitals are dirty, which is why they prefer private hospitals. Majority of the accident and trauma cases in the city are brought to NIMHANS, so the patient turnout is very high. This is unlike private hospitals,” he says.
When asked about long waiting periods, Dr Sateesh said that relatives of patients with neurological injuries tend be very anxious during hospitalisation and treatment. “Since most neuro patients are unconscious, relatives tend to be more worried than usual as they cannot fully understand the injuries and associated complications. They cannot talk to the patients, which is possible in case of leg, hand, or hip injuries. This makes them feel that waiting periods are too high,” he says.
Dr Sateesh felt that more trauma centres needed to be set up in the city to ease the burden on NIMHANS and that expanding the existing facilities would not ease the pressure.
“We receive and treat patients from all over the state. Once a patient is unconscious, he or she is brought straight to NIMHANS and, on investigation, we find that the patient was unconscious due to a femoral injury or stomach injury. When we refer patients to hospitals that treat such injuries, they do not understand the reason, and take offence,” he says. “What the city needs are more trauma centres. The government should look into the issue and open trauma centres in Bangalore, especially one in the northern part of the city and in Electronics City,” says Dr Sateesh.