MUZAFFARPUR: Untrained doctors who don’t have the skill to handle critical equipment in intensive care units, and the lack of an awareness drive because of the Lok Sabha elections in April-May, could be behind the sudden spike in the deaths of children due to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in this district.
A seven-member team of experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Delhi and Patna, which visited the Shri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH) here to study the high rate of deaths, blamed the hospital’s doctors in its report for not being able to operate equipment such as CT scan machines, ventilators and blood gas analysers.
Official sources privy to the report told TNIE that while critical life-saving equipment were available in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of the SKMCH, they were largely unutilised as the doctors did not know how to operate them or use them optimally.
Most of the children afflicted by AES are admitted in the SKMCH as it is the largest hospital that caters to at least eight districts in the vicinity.
The report was submitted to the Centre’s Director General of Health Services on June 14 with a copy to the Bihar government. It said the hospital’s CT scanners were not used to diagnose the children, neither were the six available ventilators put to use as no trained intensivist (intensive care technician-doctor) was available.
A doctor attached to the expert team said team leader Dr Arun Kumar Singh and Dr Lokesh Tiwari pointed out several “gaps and deficiencies” in the management of AES at the SKMCH. He said the team found that arterial blood gas analysers were not used and the “doctors did not appear to know when or how to use it.”The team found that the doctors did not follow protocol while recording clinical parameters. “The team found that they were not familiar with the diagnosis and management protocol of AES or even how to prioritise patients on a case by case basis,” a doctor said.
A top Bihar health department official said the state government also needs to be faulted for not launching an awareness campaign just before June when most of the deaths due to AES have historically taken place.