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Times of India
26 August 2010
By Somdatta Basu
Kolkata, India

In Hospitals, Don’t Say It With Flowers
Gone are the days when you could wish your near and dear ones in hospital a speedy recovery by sending them a bunch of roses or tulips. The flowers that hold a special meaning for healing and recovery, such as orchids and gladiolus, are also a strict no–no. Hospitals in the city have formally decided to put a ban on offering flowers to patients because of the risk of infection.

Flowers could also affect the weakened respiratory tracts of patients, say doctors.
"Flowers contain pollen grains that can cause irritation inside the respiratory system and trigger an allergy. Even the water in flower pots can house bacteria and thus be a source of infection.

Patients have very weak respiratory tracts and are more prone to infection," said Richa Deb Gupta, centre head for Fortis Hospital and Kidney Institute.

But keeping in mind the sentimental value attached with flowers, the hospital allows bouquets to be shown to the patient and then kept at the reception. "The patients can collect them after they are discharged," Deb Gupta said.

Belle Vue Clinic had imposed a complete ban on gifting flowers to patients seven months back. "Earlier, we only allowed bouquets from our own florists but we have discontinued the practice altogether. No one can hand any flowers to patients," said CEO of Belle Vue Clinic, Pradip Tandon.

At Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI) a notice has been put up indicating the ban. "The immuno–compromised patients may contract opportunistic bacterial or microbacterial infection. In an Intensive Care Unit, the water from flower pots may spill over and cause harm to life–saving devices. Even a petal may be life–threatening," said Indranil Roy, consultant microbiologist at CMRI. The ban has been implemented at BM Birla Heart Research Centre as well.

T S Kuckrejja, president of AMRI hospitals, Salt Lake, said: "In case of VIPs or if a patient’s kin are really insistent, we allow greeting cards to be sent while we keep the flower bouquet with us. It has been incorporated in the hospital policy for quite a while."

Rupali Basu, CEO of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, said: "The ban was in place in our hospital since ages. Pollen grains are highly infectious and can cause asthma. We do not allow flowers in patient care units." Rupak Barua, COO of CMRI, said: "We heard of cases when recycled flowers were purchased by unsuspecting family members or friends to be brought to the hospital. It is not safe at all."

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