Kashmir’s evening emergency ward chaos

by Aditya Kumar

Challenges in the Management of Emergency Wards in Kashmir

The healthcare system is the backbone of any society, and efficient emergency care is crucial for saving lives. In recent years, the government hospitals in Kashmir have made significant strides in improving their equipment and infrastructure. However, there is a persistent problem when it comes to managing emergency wards, particularly during the evening shift when they are manned by junior doctors and interns.

This situation has raised concerns about patient care and the ability to handle critical situations effectively. The consequences of this arrangement are evident as inexperienced junior doctors struggle to diagnose diseases or respond to emergencies, while senior consultants are often absent from their duties.

The repercussions of this issue were highlighted by Manzoor Ahmad, who shared a distressing experience. His sister-in-law lost consciousness, and they took her to SMHS Hospital where intern doctors struggled to diagnose the underlying cause. They ran from one place to another in desperation, but only when they consulted senior doctors were they directed to shift the patient to the ICU. Unfortunately, she succumbed later. Ahmad believes that better management with a senior doctor to guide could have made a significant difference in the outcome.

Apart from the issue of junior doctors managing emergency wards, there is also a shortage of healthcare staff in these facilities, further hampering patient care. Patients often face delays in receiving critical treatments as the paramedic staff is overburdened. Waseem Ahmad recently took his sister to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) for treatment and narrated an incident where it took half an hour to administer a glucose drip due to the overwhelmed paramedic staff.

One of the most concerning consequences of this situation is the delayed treatment for emergency patients, including those suffering from heart attacks. Many patients lose the “golden hour,” crucial for treatment, due to the inexperience and carelessness of junior doctors and interns. According to Kashmir-based cardiologists, heart attacks in J&K have nearly doubled in the last five years.

A senior critical care doctor highlighted that patients with various complications from many districts are referred to tertiary care hospitals, often leading to unfavorable outcomes. While some fortunate patients receive the necessary treatment, many do not survive during this critical period. This emphasizes the urgent need for senior doctors to be physically present in the emergency wards for patient care. Decision-making in medical and surgical emergencies must be done by senior doctors.

Dr. Nisar Ul Hassan, President of the Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK), expressed his concerns about the issue. He stressed that treatment in the emergency ward is a matter of life, and any delay can cost lives. Patient survival depends on timely treatment and diagnosis. Dr. Hassan called for senior doctors to be physically present in the emergency wards round the clock, highlighting the importance of their expertise in making rapid and accurate decisions for the benefit of patients.

Despite repeated public grievances and requests, it seems that health authorities have not taken sufficient action to address these critical issues. This leaves patients and their families in Kashmir concerned about the quality of emergency healthcare they receive.

It is imperative for the government and health authorities to take immediate steps to rectify this situation. The management of emergency wards should prioritize the presence of senior doctors to ensure timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment. By addressing these challenges, the healthcare system in Kashmir can provide better emergency care and save more lives.

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