78 newborns die at Thane civil hospital in 7 months

Aug 17, 2012, 07:02 IST | Naveen Nair

A startling report submitted by the district health department to the state government has revealed as many as 78 newborns have died in Thane civil hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the past seven months.

The infants apparently succumbed to conditions like birth asphyxia, septic infections, respiratory distress or low birth weight. Of the total 572 neonates admitted for treatment in the NICU, 78 died during this period, said the report submitted to Maharashtra health minister Suresh Shetty.

Though the report does not mention the causes of these deaths, it further enlists the lack of adequate healthcare facilities in government hospitals of Thane. For a population of more than 1.10 crore in what is the largest district of the country, just 1,206 cots are available in all government hospitals here, the report says. 

Thane civil hospital has been tottering with the handicap of at least 25 per cent vacant posts of the total 54 class I, II and III officers’ — including doctors —, added the report. There is no psychiatrist, ophthalmologist, and TB or ENT specialist at the institute. The hospital treated a total of 58,898 outpatients and 6,263 indoor patients in this period. Besides, 276 patients died in the hospital while receiving care.

‘Not true’
On the other hand, the hospital brushed off these claims. The staff said the cause of so many deaths is not lack of doctors and medical equipment alone. Most of these patients belong to the remote villages and fail to admit themselves in time for appropriate medical attention, they said. The medical staff at the hospital maintains it is well-equipped to handle ailments of newborns as long as they aren’t brought in too late.

Dr UD Marulkar, head of paediatric department, Thane civil hospital, said, “It is very essential to keep in mind that the data mentioned in the report concerns babies admitted in NICU.

Only the cases that are critical are admitted in NICU and we try our best to save all of them. Many of these cases arrive with organs defective since birth. Out of over 500 cases admitted at the NICU we manage to save over 400 and it’s possible only because of the team of experienced doctors and up-to-date equipment.”

“Of the total 588 children delivered in the district this year, 508 were born at this hospital. 80 infants were admitted here post birth. Majority of the babies that died had been admitted to the NICU in an already critical condition from nearby areas of Thane district. We take utmost care to maintain hygienic conditions in the NICU,” said Dr RB Kulkarni, medical superintendent of the hospital.

When contacted, Dr A B Nandapurkar, resident medical officer, Thane civil hospital, denied any knowledge of the health report. Despite several attempts by MiD DAY, we could not get through to health minister Suresh Shetty. He also failed to reply to the text message sent to him requesting his comment. 

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