Mumbai: Noisy JJ Hospital nurses put expectant mothers, psychiatric patients at risk

International Nurses' Day jamboree at JJ Hospital violates noise pollution norms, plays with health of vulnerable patients; dean says nothing wrong

Nurses play cymbals while keeping step with the beat of dhols at JJ Hospital
Nurses play cymbals while keeping step with the beat of dhols at JJ Hospital

Patients of JJ Hospital must still be nursing a splitting headache. On May 12, they were subjected to ear-splitting noisy celebrations by on-duty nurses - the caregivers who vow to prioritise their health above all. The revelry was marked right outside the nursing matron's office and bang opposite the maternity, psychiatry and tuberculosis departments, leaving vulnerable patients at risk. Hospitals are silence zones, and any violation attracts stringent punishment.

The raucous celebrations, on the occasion of International Nurses Day on May 12, in memory of founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale, were taken out through parts of the state-run hospital's premises, including near the dean's office.

On-duty nurses abandon their work to capture their peers' celebrations on JJ Hospital premises
On-duty nurses abandon their work to capture their peers' celebrations on JJ Hospital premises

On-duty revelry
Videos available with mid-day show nurses dressed in traditional Maharashtrian attire playing cymbals, dancing to the beat of dhols and raising a din on the hospital premises.

Sources said most of these nurses were on duty. Other nurses, in their official uniform, are seen taking their peers' videos and photographs with nary a concern for patient care.

A doctor from the hospital said most of the celebrations were confined to the nursing matron's office, which is opposite the maternity, psychiatry and tuberculosis departments.

"One patient in the maternity ward who had complications with her pregnancy became more restless with the noise. Besides, a number of patients in the psychiatry ward are extremely sensitive to noise."

The doctor added that loud music can cause severe damage to foetuses and newborns.

Dr TP Lahane,Dean of JJ Hospital
Dr TP Lahane,Dean of JJ Hospital

'Hold them accountable'
Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation, said the nurses failed their patients. "Playing music in such close proximity of patients is wrong. The hospital authorities need to be held responsible for this."

Anand Patwardhan, an expert in medical ethics, said the nurses also violated ethical norms. "A medical staffer, be it a doctor, nurse or a class IV employee, shouldn't leave his/her duty to participate in such activities, especially on a hospital premises. Government hospitals are already suffering from staff crunch; leaving hospital while on duty increases the workload of other staffers, which, in the end, affects the services offered."

Dr Ramling Mali, president of Maharashtra Nursing Council, however, asserted that music is allowed in hospitals but within permissible limits.

"JJ Hospital is built on a huge ground. So, one should check how close the programme was to the patients. As long as there is no trouble to patients and the noise is within permissible limits, I don't think there should be any problem. I support the celebration of Nurses' Day but with restrictions."

Event only inside auditorium: Dean
Despite video evidence of the boisterous revelry, dean Dr TP Lahane claimed the programme was restricted to the auditorium on the seventh floor of the new building. "Nothing was done outside," he said. He also said the noise level was within the "permissible limit of 60dB". He added that the hospital had police permission for the event. Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant was not available for comment.

What the law says

  • The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules declare a radius of 100 m around hospitals, educational institutions and courts as silence zones. Violations attract a five-year imprisonment and/or Rs 1-lakh fine.
  • The HC has ruled that hospitals can hold functions and use speakers within their institutions, but only within closed doors.

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