Man dies at KEM hospital, kin assault on-duty nurse

History repeated itself at KEM Hospital's ward number 12 after Manda Waghchure, widow of 51-year-old Laxman who breathed his last in the overcrowded general ward on Wednesday night, holding the on-duty nurse Sankruti Haldankar responsible for his death, assaulted her verbally and physically.

Hitting out: Ward no 12 at KEM, where Manda Waghchure, widow of
51-year-old Laxman, assaulted the on-duty nurse Sankruti Haldankar

A detailed analysis of both the situationsĀ -- the one, which occurred on Wednesday night, and the one that occurred 12 years ago, wherein nurse Anju Parade was assaulted by relatives of a deceased patientĀ -- highlight the inappropriate patient-nurse ratio across civic hospitals in the city, where an on-duty nurse is hard-pressed to attend to several patients during her shift.

The apology letter
Laxman was admitted to ward no 12 on February 2 for drowsiness. During the course of treatment, he was diagnosed with intra-cranial bleeding and was on medication, when suddenly his condition worsened on Wednesday night.

"Around 11:30 pm, Laxman's condition started deteriorating. The saline that was being administered to him had traces of blood. I immediately called out for the on-duty nurse, but she was busy tending to other patients in the ward. I then rushed to doctors' cabin and requested them to have a look at my husband. However, they called a nurse and asked her to check on him. Despite this, his condition remained serious, and when the doctors came in, they declared him dead after checking him," wrote Manda in her apology letter, which she signed, after the hospital authorities stated that they would lodge a police complaint against her for unruly behaviour.

"Upset over her husband's death, Manda started hurling abuses at me. While it took me some time to understand what was going on, in a fit of rage, she ran towards me and hit me hard on my shoulder following which I collapsed on the floor," recalled Haldankar.

"Some 12 years ago, a similar incident had occurred. I was single-handedly attending to around 90 patients of which three were critical and two had been shifted to the ICU. This patient (Laxman) was already in a bad state and as per doctor's instructions I had given him injections," said Haldankar.

Lax security
Upset with the lax security arrangements and the increasing burden on nurses, exposing them to patients and their relatives' wrath, the nurses' union met the hospital authorities on Thursday morning, demanding strict action against Manda. The nurses even threatened to go on a strike if the inappropriate patient-nurse ratio wasn't rectified soon.

At present, 850-odd nurses work at the hospital round the clock in three shifts. In wards where nurses like Haldankar work, at times patients are accommodated on the ward's floor due to overcrowding, resulting in around 90 patients being looked after by a single nurse.

Anju Parade, now a member of Municipal Karamachari Kamgar Sena, said, "In BMC hospitals the average ratio is one nurse for six patients, which is being observed in a few wards. However, considering the continuous inflow admission of patients, the number of on-duty nurses in wards has to increase."

Recollecting her 12-year-old ordeal, Parade said, "I was hit with a chair by the relative of a patient in the same ward and even then the problem was the same: numerous patients and only one nurse. We have requested the authorities to improve the ratio, and strengthen the security."

Official word
Dr Sanjay Oak, dean of KEM Hospital, assured the nurses union that the civic body is trying to improve the ratio by having one nurse for two patients each in the ICU and one for four patients in the general wards.
Vikrant Patil, senior police inspector, Bhoiwada police station, said, "Though the hospital has informed us about the incident, it is yet to lodge a complaint."

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