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Emergency

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DQW Bureau
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It was an early morning call, on a Sunday, that woke me up. My friend's

mother-in-law, who lived in Agra, was seriously ill. A heart patient, the night

before she'd had a stroke, and was admitted to a local hospital. Unfortunately,

things got a little complicated and perhaps went out of hand, and the doctors at

the hospital advised that she be immediately shifted to a hospital in Delhi

which specialized in heart as well as brain. Somebody suggested the name of one

of South Delhi's oldest and most premium names in heart care. Frantic calls were

made to this hospital in the middle of the night, but no doctor was available.

So, on the advise of the receptionist, the lady was put on an ambulance and

shifted to this hospital.

In the meanwhile I was also trying to contact some senior doctors I knew, but

I discovered that Sunday morning is not the right time to contact senior

doctors. Hospitals do not seem to be geared to handle situations where one just

wants to talk and explain the situation and find out what the next steps should

be.

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It was only by late morning when a senior doctor had reached the hospital and

gone through her case that it was discovered that she needed immediate attention

of a neurosurgeon. Unfortunately, all that the hospital promised by way of help

was another ambulance, and quick billing for the services rendered so far. It

was left to my friend to figure where to try his mother-in-law's luck next.

I had finally managed to speak to some doctors, and they promised to help me

get in touch with the right hospital and the right doctor. But by the time these

doctors checked out with the specialists, and they in turn with their colleagues

about the the possible next steps for this patient, who was by then almost half

dead, another couple of crucial hours had been lost. Finally, one hospital was

zeroed-in on and the doctors there instructed, over several phone calls, that

she be readied and shifted. Some more critical time was lost before she reached

the next hospital, by late afternoon. For an emergency like this, medication and

surgery started about twenty-four hours late, and one hopes and prays that she

survives.

So what kind of IT and networking in hospitals do we talk about? Only billing

software, or inventory management so that hospitals are monetarily efficient and

profitable? Could the concerned hospitals not use ICT to help and guide

patients. A layman can list down the possible solutions ranging from sharable

database of hospitals and resources to SMS alerts for doctors to tele-medicine,

that could have prevented a situation like this. I think just like Nandan

Nilekani has been asked to create a structured database of all Indian citizens,

we need an administrator who can ensure hospitals across the country deploy

these solutions. A unique ID will give my identity, but an IT enabled hospital

system can give me life.

Ibrahim ahmad


ibrahima@cybermedia.co.in

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