Wednesday June 12, 2024

Nobody to take care of unidentified trauma patients at Karachi’s major hospitals

By M. Waqar Bhatti
September 20, 2023

With a deep, open wound in the back of his skull, a young man has been visiting the emergency room of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for the last one month for treatment, but he is constantly being denied treatment by the healthcare providers, eyewitnesses and some staff members at the hospital claimed on Tuesday.

“He is an unknown patient with nobody accompanying him to the ER of the JPMC. Having a deep wound in the back of his head, which bleeds all the time while maggots can also be seen in his wound, this patient only knows that his name is Sohail and he is from Hyderabad,” said a health official outside the JPMC emergency room.

Unaware of his whereabouts, perhaps due to a deep head injury, this patient in his early 30s often tries to enter the emergency room to get treatment, but he is denied entry, and security staff are asked by doctors and paramedics to keep him away, the whistleblower further claimed.

“On average, daily around 8-10 people are brought to the JPMC’s emergency room who are labelled as unidentified patients. These are the most unfortunate patients as nobody cares about them. Doctors and paramedics remain so much busy that they hardly have the time to take patients to the radiology or any other department for the medical investigations, including CT scans, and some other tests.”

He said most of the unknown patients are referred to the JPMC from Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and the Civil Hospital Karachi, as both hospitals lack radiological facilities, including CT scans. People injured in road traffic accidents with broken bones, head injuries and severe trauma are immediately referred to the JPMC from these hospitals, with the hope that these patients would get appropriate treatment at the JPMC, he added.

The same is the situation at the Indus Hospital, which has the tradition of referring most of its patients to the JPMC, the health official said, adding that as the majority of accident and trauma patients are referred to the JPMC’s ER, overburdened doctors and staff start ignoring patients, especially who are not accompanied by attendants.

“Actually, we need attendants to accompany serious patients as they take them to the radiology department on stretchers, shift them to other wards and bring medicines and supplies which are often not available at the emergency room. When a person is not accompanied by any attendant, nobody cares for that patient.”

In some cases, said the official, the Edhi Foundation is approached for taking care of unknown and unclaimed patients, but for quite some time, even the Edhi foundation has been not paying any heed to such patients.

JPMC Emergency Room Incharge Dr Nausheen Rauf said that on average, daily 3-4 unidentified patients are brought to the JPMC and they are taken care of until their relatives approach the hospital. She added that in case a patient remains unidentified, the hospital seeks the Edhi Foundation’s help in tracing his or her whereabouts.

“We never deny treatment to any patient whether he is alone or comes with an attendant. Patients with attendants are easy to treat as they help in providing history, family details and helping in treatment. But we also equally treat patients who are unidentified,” she said and claimed that most of the unidentified patients come from Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, which lacks basic facilities.

Regarding the patient with the head injury denied treatment, Dr Nausheen said she was not aware of any such case but promised to inquire about the patient and provide him every possible treatment.