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18 May 2009
Vidya Krishnan
New Delhi, India

It’s been 18 months since the licence to run a blood bank at the Sushruta Trauma Centre was revoked by the State Blood Transfusion Council. But the hospital has been running.

Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia, who visited the trauma centre thrice in the last week alone, is ‘seriously concerned’ about the issue. On her latest visit on May 13, she said the Health department was ‘Attacking the problem aggressively’.

The trauma centre is running without a pathologist, neurosurgeon, radiologist, and has only one anesthesiologist, when four are required.

“I am seriously concerned about the situation. I cannot imagine how a trauma centre is functioning without a neurosurgeon. Within a week we will arrange one,” Walia, who also went to the hospital on two ‘surprise visits’, told Newsline.

But authorities refuse to renew the blood bank’s licence. The hospital, they say, does not have the infrastructure to run a blood bank.

“The staff is not trained. Air–conditioners are not working and they do not have a qualified pathologist. A technician cannot run a blood bank,” Dr Bharat Singh, member of the State Blood Transfusion Council, said. “We had given them directions to improve the infrastructure and apply again for a license.”

A senior doctor at the trauma centre said, “It is unimaginable how this trauma centre is surviving without a blood bank – medical care at a trauma centre cannot wait. All these factors are responsible for the high mortality rate at the hospital.”

Meanwhile, the hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr. Yadu Lal said they were ‘Teething problems’. “We will soon apply for the blood bank licence,” he said.
When asked how the bank will function without a pathologist, Lal said, “These (hospitals) are government set–ups where posting personnel, renewing licence, etc. take time. For now, we depend on nearby hospitals for help.”

The trauma centre mainly caters to road accident victims with fractures or head injuries. Constructed on National Highway 1, the 72–bedded centre was attached to the Lok Nayak Hospital when it was inaugurated in 1999. But later it was delinked and set up as an independent unit in February 2007.

Trauma centres across the world are attached to bigger hospitals for back – up – mainly to keep 30 per cent beds free in case of disasters and emergencies. According to the rules, patients are to be shifted to the trauma center’s parent hospital within 96 hours of preliminary medical treatment.

At Sushruta Trauma Centre
* No pathologist – required to run the blood bank.
* No neurosurgeon – senior resident in general surgery handle head injuries.
* No radiologist – required for CT Scans, X–rays, etc.
* One anaesthesiologist – four required; three posts lying vacant.
* No licence – blood bank running without one for 18 months.

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