CNN-News18 Investigation

Charak Hospital, in the heart of Indore, has a permanent doctor on duty in ICU who graduated with a degree in homeopathy with no formal training to practice critical care.

New Delhi: Some expensive private hospitals in India are cutting corners in the most critical area, the Intensive Care Units.

This was revealed an investigation by CNN-News18 which visited several premier private hospitals in Indore and Bengaluru.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family welfare (and globally accepted norms), a doctor in an ICU must be an ‘intensivist’; meaning a specialist with a post graduate degree that is recognized by Medical Council of India and has relevant training for Intensive care.

However, CNN-News18 found that some hospitals in both Indore and Bengaluru were getting away violating these norms.

For uninitiated, an ICU must have a full-time director in-charge who must be a senior accredited specialist in intensive care medicine, must have a post graduate degree in anaesthesiology and intensive care or surgery, with five to seven years of intensive care formal education and experience.

Charak Hospital, in the heart of Indore, has a permanent doctor on duty in ICU who graduated with a degree in homeopathy with no formal training to practice critical care. Dr Dipender Soni told CNN-News18 about his eight years of experience as an ‘ICU Specialist’. Further, he said that all the specialists that Charak Hospital boasts do not ever visit the ICU. The homeopathy doctor said, “I take all the calls during an emergency, the senior doctors are consulted only on the phone afterwards,” he said.

Meanwhile, Eureka Hospital, located in one of Indore’s costliest residential localities, Saket Nagar, has an ICU specialist is not trained in intensive care. Dr Amit Tiwari told CNN-News18 that he also works at Bhandari hospital and is in Eureka as a relieving doctor. Trained in Ayurveda, he has been working as an ICU doctor for over 5 years.

“I take care of everything in this ICU- open heart surgery, cardiac arrests, trauma, head injuries, hypertension, and diabetes, among others. Since I am the chief here, I decide what is to be done with a critical patient. If I feel like, I would put in the central line, if I deem right, I intubate the patient,” he said.

Mayur Hospital in Indore has no ICU specialists despite advertising itself as a ‘multi-speciality hospital. The doctor handling the ICU is Dr Tousif Sheik, a Unani doctor. He said he treats critical patients- cases of cardiac arrests, respiratory arrests, trauma and road traffic accidents. Further, he named other well-known private hospitals where he worked in the ICU. “I have been working in ICUs for over 3 years now. Previously, I’ve worked in Bhandari Hospital ICU, Synergy Hospital and Lifecare Hospital,” Sheik said.

The situation is not limited to Indore. In Bengaluru, the man in charge of the ICU in Pooja Hospital is a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS). Dr Sooraj is also the OPD in-charge. He told CNNiNews18 that he is the ICU specialist in two other private hospitals in the city as well – Anupama hospital and NU Hospital – both multi-specialty hospitals.

He further revealed that most private hospitals in Bengaluru have his colleagues and friends in the ICU who are all B.A.M.S qualified. “Except for a Fortis, Manipal and Apollo, all other private hospitals, from top to bottom in Bengaluru have Ayush doctors in ICUs,” Dr Sooraj said.

CNN-News18 also visited Sri Laxmi Multi-speciality Hospital and Ashraya Hospital. While the former has two Ayurvedic doctors on ICU duty, the latter didn’t even have a doctor in ICU. The ICU in Ashraya hospital is handled by a nurse in-charge because the doctor chose to stay at home. “The doctor lives nearby. I am in-charge here. I handle everything here except cardiac and renal cases,” the nurse said.