Durgesh Nandan Jha, TNN | Aug 24, 2013,

NEW DELHI: Safdarjung Hospital, one of India‘s largest government-run health institutions, has witnessed more than 4,135 patient deaths in last six months. Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azadsaid this on Friday in reply to a Lok Sabhaquestion on patient deaths at various government-run hospitals.Last year, the hospital had reported 8,239 patient deaths — 22 deaths per day— which is nearly double the number reported at other big hospitals. AIIMS, for example, witnessed 4,432 patient deaths in 2012-13.

Officials at Safdarjung Hospital said the mortality rates were reflective of the high number of critically-ill patients handled by them and it did not prove any negligence on their part.

“We have about 1,530 beds at the hospital and the number of patients admitted at any given time is above 2,000. We do not refuse admission to any patient,” said a senior official, who did not want to be quoted. He said about 1,000 patients, including road accident cases, terminally-ill patients, visit the emergency department daily. “We get all kinds of patients from burn injuries and head injury to those suffering from acute diarrhoea. The death figures quoted here may seem to be very high independently but when you compare it with the patient load it is standard,” said Dr B D Athani, medical superintendent of Safdarjung hospital.

Azad also in his reply to the Lok Sabha question seemed to give the hospital a clean chit by saying that the ‘no cases of medical negligence by the doctors or paramedical staff have been established.’

Some of the doctors, however, said that lack of ICU beds and high-end antibiotics at the hospital was a major concern. “Since 2009, there has not been any increase in the number of ICU beds. We have only about 20 ICU beds, including those in the swine flu ward. The number of emergency admissions on the other end is very high,” said a senior doctor.

The government has recently approved phase-I redevelopment of Safdarjung Hospital which includes the establishment of two separate building blocks — a 807-bed super-speciality-cum-paid-ward block and a 500-bed emergency block. Both blocks will have ICU beds, said a senior health ministry official. He added that the cost of project execution will be Rs 1,332 crore, inclusive of Rs 165 crore towards expenses on operations for the first year.


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