Civic-run hospitals have only 103 ICU beds

Published: Nov 28, 2012, 07:57 IST | Naveen Nair |

MiD DAY visited KEM, Sion, Nair and JJ hospitals and found that the facilities are short on ICU beds to deal with the overwhelming number of accident cases coming in each day

In contrast to the over 12 million population in the city, the number of beds in the Trauma and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) wards and beds in the ICUs in the three main BMC hospitals and a major state-run hospital collectively is a mere 103.

While these hospitals have ICU beds for various departments — like neo-natal (NICU), paediatric (PICU), surgical (SICU) and others — the overwhelming number of accident cases in the city ensures that there are rarely any vacant ICU beds to accommodate the cases. Thousands of patients pass through the doors of these hospitals each day, and the disproportionate ratio with regard to the number of beds is quite evident.

MiD DAY visited KEM, Sion and Nair hospitals — the three major BMC hospitals in the city — and found that there are around 83 ICU beds in total. This gives rise to concerns as critical patients turning up at peripheral hospitals are referred to these three hospitals. There have been instances wherein patients in urgent need of an ICU bed could not get admitted in these three hospitals, as every single bed was occupied.

Senior doctors at the BMC-run hospitals feel an urgent need for the number of trauma beds to be increased and admit that with proposals for other super specialty procedures pending at their end, this issue is yet to be addressed.

Sion Hospital
Sion Hospital handles a vast majority of motor accident cases — mostly from accidents occurring on Eastern Express Highway and Western Express Highway — as emergencies. It is the only BMC-run hospital with a separate trauma ward for such cases. There are currently 18 ICU beds in the trauma unit and Dr Suleiman Merchant, the dean of Sion Hospital, admits there is an urgent need for more.

Merchant said, “A proposal has been submitted for increasing the number of beds, under which 20 more beds will be added to the trauma unit. This would help us manage the emergency cases arriving at our hospital.”

KEM Hospital
KEM Hospital sees a majority of patients from across the city, both general and emergency cases. KEM has a total bed strength of 1,800, including 45 ICU beds for accident cases. Recently, a patient involved in a motor accident suffered critical head injuries and was rushed to Rajawadi Hospital. Doctors there realised the emergency, and transferred the patient to KEM. However, the patient was kept in the emergency ward on a ventilator at KEM, as no beds were vacant in the ICU.

When asked about the need for ICU beds, Dr Sandhya Kamath, the dean KEM hospital, said, “There are currently around 45 trauma ICU beds at the hospital. The previous dean had submitted a proposal for increasing the number of beds. The proposal has been sanctioned and the number of trauma ICU beds will be increased to around 82 beds within the next three months.” Kamath admitted that the current number of ICU beds is not sufficient for the number of cases that arrive at the hospital on a daily basis.

JJ Hospital
The state-run JJ Hospital has only 20 beds in the Trauma and EMS ICUs, which is grossly inadequate considering that over 3,500 emergency cases are handled here on average per day. Dr TP Lahane, dean, JJ Hospital, said, “Except for Sion Hospital, other major hospitals lack a separate trauma ward. It is essential that major hospitals in the city have a separate trauma ward with a minimum capacity of 50 beds.”

“In case of JJ Hospital, we find the number of trauma beds less in comparison to the number of cases that arrive on a regular basis. I submitted a proposal in 2011 to the Central government and the State government for setting up a trauma unit at the hospital. I believe the proposal will be sanctioned in the upcoming budget.”

Nair Hospital
Nair Hospital is also facing a shortage in comparison to need. A senior doctor at Nair Hospital said on condition of anonymity, “Though we are able to manage with the current number of trauma beds at our hospital, there is an urgent need for additional beds. We have around 10 beds in the trauma ward and once patients are stable, we shift them to other wards. We are yet to submit a proposal for increasing the number of trauma beds at our facility.” There are another 10 beds in the EMS ward.

World Health Organisation report
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is no global norm for the density of hospital beds in relation to total population. Detailed WHO report on the number of hospital beds available per 10,000 population, country-wise.

KEM hospital
Total bed strength: 1,800
Trauma and EMS: 45 beds

Sion Hospital
Total bed strength: 1,422
Trauma and EMS: 18 beds

Nair Hospital
Total bed strength: 1,300
Trauma and EMS: 20 beds

JJ Hospital
Total bed strength: 1,352
Trauma and EMS: 20 beds 

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