Hyderabad: There appears to be no end to the woes of Covid-19 patients at Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (Tims), at Gachibowli. First, it was the lack of good quality food, and then extremely delayed delivery of food to the patients.
Now it is poor patient care, thanks to the severe shortages of staff at the hospital. Though the issue of staff shortages was reported in these columns earlier, it has once again come to the fore following the death of eight Covid-19 patients in an ICU ward at the hospital after loss of pressure in the oxygen lines on Sunday.
This newspaper has learnt that one of the contributing factors for the deaths of patients every day at Tims is lack of staff, be it doctors, nurses, or patient care workers. With four ICUs, one with 38 beds on the ground floor, and three more on the floor above it with 25 beds each, staff work in three shifts taking care of the patients. However, there is just one nurse, one patient care worker, and one doctor in each shift for each of the ICUs.
Inquiries revealed that it is impossible for a single doctor, or a nurse, or a patient care worker to attend to the needs of all the patients in the ICUs. Even as they do their best and rush around, one of the biggest challenges is getting timely results of diagnostic tests.
Results of blood samples sent to the state-run Telangana Diagnostics hub at the Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM) at Narayanaguda take more than one day to come back, and it is not uncommon for patients at Tims and its doctors to wait for even two days or more in some instances for the results.
Some of critical tests that Covid-19 patients need to undergo and whose results are vital in treating the patients include D-Dimers that show the potential for clotting of blood, Ferretin test that shows iron levels in the body, C Reactive Protein test that can help the doctor understand inflammation levels in the body, and Liver Function Tests that help doctors make other critical assessments on the patient’s ability to deal with drugs.
“In the absence of test results which are extremely critical for successfully treating Covid-19 cases, what any doctor can do is to provide some prophylactic treatment and not address the condition that a patient may be in,” a doctor said. And if stretched thin over 25 or more ICU patients to be attended to in a single shift, it is next to impossible, whether for the single doctor, or the nurse, to attend to the needs of every critically ill patient.
Meanwhile, on the issue of oxygen, the hospital, on Tuesday said there was no shortage of oxygen supply at Tims and that the installed liquid oxygen tank ‘is sufficient to meet the needs of the hospital with adequate pressure’. Calling the news report in these columns as trying to scare patients coming to the hospital, Tims’ Director said the deaths ‘happened in ICU were part of the natural progression of disease and due to complications and not due to shortage of oxygen’.
The report published in these columns on the death of eight patients in one of the ICUs at Tims on Sunday did not speak about the installed capacities of oxygen supply or shortages of oxygen but about the fall in pressure in the lines after which the patients breathed their last....