Human life must come before red tape

Just days after a Borivli hospital let a biker die over a Rs 9,000 shortfall in fee, the civic-run Sion Hospital left a 48-year-old accident victim bleeding outside its trauma ward for an entire night.

Doctors at the hospital did not even touch the victim, much less treat him, until nearly 16 hours after he fell off a train at Vidyavihar on Sunday, ensuring that his stretcher was soaked in blood and his condition was critical by the time they got around to paying any attention to him yesterday morning.

A report in this paper yesterday stated that even after they put Shrikant Gharat (48), of Uran, on a ventilator, doctors said his condition was critical and they would wait for him to stablilise. Gharat had fallen off a local train at Vidyavihar station due to the crush of people.

Unfortunately, Gharat’s condition is a familiar one. We have seen so many instances where people are refused admission or admitted late to a hospital for a number of reasons, ranging from shortage of beds to money. This leads to precious time being wasted, and in extreme cases this has led to a loss of life.

We see that there is flagrant violation of the Supreme Court order which says that patients have to be treated within the golden hour. They cannot be kept waiting on any pretext. Recently, the High Court also said that there should be ambulances outside train stations, given the large number of accidents on the tracks. However, keeping ambulances outside stations is only the first part; if the victim does not have access to timely treatment after being transported by the ambulance, then all that effort is specious.

It is not just at stations, but accidents happen in many other public places, too. There has to be an effective, quick chain of command that is in place to tackle these emergencies. Let hospitals show more compassion; red tape cannot come in the way of saving life or limb. Rules need to be clearly and concisely spelt out. In this pecking order, human life comes first and saving a person is priority. This has to be non-negotiable.

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