Mumbai: In a shocking revelation, a Right to Information (RTI) response showed that the authority and staff of the JJ Hospital have no clue about more than 3000 patients who have absconded from the hospital since 2013. The RTI response blames lethargy approach of hospital staff, security lapses and behaviour of doctors and nursing staff with the patients and their relatives.
According to the information provided by JJ hospital, of the 3,856 patients who went absconding, 2,841 were male and 1,015 female. “Around 311 were from the paediatrics department, including a mother and a newborn who absconded in 2014. The surgery and medicine departments had the maximum such patients,” the response to the RTI query revealed.
The data was accessed from major departments such as general medicine, paediatrics, gynaecology and obstetrics, psychiatry and orthopaedic departments. RTI activist Chetan Kothari, who had filed the query, said that there are no entry from the Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA) category where patients are relieved against the advice of treating physician, based on family’s demands.
“There is hardly any feedback mechanism in public hospitals, so there is no way to find out if patients were frustrated. It is surprising that patients would leave without taking a discharge summary,” added Kothari. The issue of absconding patients seems to be dogging civic hospitals too, even though the waiting time is relatively less. “An average of one patient goes missing from public hospitals daily,” said Dr Avinash Supe, Dean of KEM hospital.
As per the guidelines of the state government’s guidelines, disappearance of patients is immediately reported to the resident medical officer (RMO) of the certain department who, in turn, submits a formal police complaint regarding the matter with the local police station. While the data show complaints were duly forwarded to police officials, not a single person was traced back.
A senior doctor from the hospital said the major reason is they want to avoid paying money for certain tests during the surgery. “We follow all guidelines and our CCTV cameras keep a strict watch on entrance and exit of every ward,” said the official.