Critical care: Lack of beds, VVIP culture hitting PGI dept functioning - Hindustan Times

Critical care: Lack of beds, VVIP culture hitting PGI dept functioning

By, Lucknow
Oct 30, 2023 10:30 PM IST

Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) in India is under scrutiny after a former BJP MP's son was refused admission to the ICU. The hospital is reportedly facing a high patient load and a shortage of critical care beds. The incident has prompted criticism of the lack of transparency in the admission process. The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered a probe into the death of the former MP's son. The hospital's director has said that there is a proposal to increase the number of critical care beds.

After the death of a former BJP MP’s son, who failed to get admission in the ICU of Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), the premier medical institute is in focus again - for all the wrong reasons.

The SGPGIMS campus in Lucknow (HT File Photo)
The SGPGIMS campus in Lucknow (HT File Photo)

A senior doctor of SGPGIMS, on the condition of anonymity said, “The increasing load on PGI sees 5,000 patients come in daily, in which more than 800 to 900 new registrations are done daily. At a time, around 1,200 patients are admitted to various wards, around 100 surgeries in various departments take place, and around 200 new patients are discharged in various wards daily, and around 500 investigations of blood, X-Ray, Ultrasound, MRI, PET Scan take place daily.”

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He added, “Doctors see patients in the OPD till 9 pm in the evening. Despite that there is a long waiting list for operations, blood tests, investigations, X-rays and ultrasound indicating a crumbling infrastructure. It is no wonder then that patients are refused admission like the former MP’s son. Because this was the case of a VVIP, it was highlighted but accommodating patients in various wards of PGI is a big challenge for doctors.”

Adding to the pressure on doctors – especially when it comes to the ICU or critical care medicine (CCM) - is the VVIP culture, for there are only 20 CCM beds in a hospital of 1,600 beds.

But this doesn’t mean the common man cannot be admitted, said another doctor of the PGI. He said, “We are not inhuman. We are here to serve humanity without considering who is who. The doctors of PGI do their best to admit young patients, or whose lives can be saved, or who respond to the treatment. But yes, sometimes, doctors have to give in to VVIPs as they are humans too.”

However, the critics say that the process of getting admissions lacks transparency.

Surendra Swaroop, a resident of Charbagh, says that he approached the department for admission of his father to CCM. My father was not admitted because he was not a VVIP. I was watching others who had good connections get admitted. Eventually, my father expired at a private nursing home.”

On average, if a patient is admitted then five to six are refused admission per day, admitted doctors of the department.

Insiders of the department said that for a good hospital, the CCM must house around 20% of its capacity. “Going by this figure, SGPGIMS must have around 320 CCM beds but we have only 20 beds for critically ill patients, which is just around 0.8 %,” an insider said.

Radha Krishna Dhiman, director, PGI said, “There is an excess load of patients on PGI, on just 20 CCM beds everyone cannot be admitted. The remedy is to increase CCM beds in other hospitals of the state, including medical colleges of the state, other major medical centres, or other hospitals of state. Only selected patients should come to PGI who really need to be treated in a super-specialty hospital like PGI.”

He said that there is a proposal to increase the number of beds in the CCM and the process to increase 12 more beds in CCM was on.

A doctor of the CCM department said, “We do our best to admit young patients, or whose lives can be saved, or who respond to the treatment. We don’t consider who is a VIP or common man.”

Probe ordered into ex-BJP MP’s son’s death

The Uttar Pradesh government ordered a high-level probe into the death of the son of a former BJP MP at SGPGIMS, on Monday.

Prakash Mishra, 40, was admitted to the hospital on Saturday with some kidney ailment. He was rushed to the hospital’s emergency facility by his father, former BJP MP from Banda Bhairon Prasad Mishra.

The death is alleged to have been caused due to shoddy treatment.

Deputy chief minister Brajesh Pathak, who holds the health portfolio, in a post on X, announced that the government ordered a probe into the former lawmaker’s son.

“The doctor concerned, who was found guilty in the prima facie investigation, is being relieved from the institute. A warning has also been issued to the director, PGI, to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PGI-instituted inquiry committee - led by chief medical superintendent Dr Sanjay Dhiraaj, medical superintendent VK Paliwal and head of emergency medicine Dr RK Singh - submitted its report to director PGI RK Dhiman.

Dhiman said, “I can’t reveal the contents of the report because it has to be submitted to the state government tomorrow, which will decide the action to be taken.”

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    Anupam Srivastava is a Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, Lucknow. Has produced exclusive stories in medical, civil aviation, civic, political and other issues for over 20 years.

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