NEW DELHI: Several doctors’ associations on Friday jointly issued policy guidelines for the management of premature babies in hospitals to resolve the dilemmas patients and doctors face in such cases.
On November 30, a preterm baby was wrongly declared dead by doctors at Max Hospital in Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh and handed over to the parents in a plastic bag, but the baby was found alive while being taken for the last rites.
The baby, a twin born in the 23rd week of pregnancy, died later in a Pitampura hospital. Following an outcry against the medical negligence by the hospital, the Delhi government cancelled its licence.
While issuing the policy guidelines, representatives of Indian Medical Association, Indian Association of Paediatrics and the National Neonatal Forum of India said the step was being taken for the benefit of doctors and parents as there were no government rules for managing such patients.
“Viability is defined as more than 28 weeks and more than one kg. Anything less than that level of treatment has to be decided on a case-to-case basis, based on chances of intact survival and informed consent, taking into consideration social determinants of health. Basic care should not be compromised,” the guidelines say.
They also say that the issue of initiation of resuscitation for extremely premature babies is a grey area. “When the foetus is 28 weeks or more, all efforts should be made to ensure that it survives; between 24-28 weeks, resuscitation can be done, and till 24 weeks, the pregnancy can be terminated as is being suggested by various organisations,” they say.
The need for issuing the advisory was felt as the IMA had received hundreds of calls from doctors on how to manage such babies following the Max row.