SRINAGAR: It is normal hospital procedure to screen every baby regardless of whether the parent asks for it or even if the baby appears healthy. Ironically the negligence of paediatricians at Sub District Hospital (SDH) Sopore in district Baramulla of north Kashmir is putting life of dozens of newborn babies at risk every day.
The paediatricians posted in the SDH Sopore hardly bothers to perform a screening tests check for rare but serious conditions in babies just after birth. A screening test generally includes a variety of blood tests, a hearing test and heart defect screenings as well.
“The blood test is generally performed when a baby is 24 to 48 hours old. This timing is important because certain conditions may go undetected if the blood sample is drawn before 24 hours of age. If the blood is drawn after 48 hours of age, there could be a life-threatening delay in providing care to an infant that has the condition”, said a senior paediatrician.
However the situation at SDH Sopore is heart wrenching. Parents of newborn babies alleged that the doctors in the hospital are least bother about the life of infants. “For most of time, the paediatricians in the hospital are missing. Now if you locate them and ask for a checkup of your newborn baby, they merely for the sake of formality check the umbilical cord, placenta of baby. No further screening is done”, said parents of a newborn at SHD Sopore.
One of the parents, whose baby was born on 12th of August, said that the baby was handed over to them after birth without any perception of a screening test. “It was really strange for me. I took my baby for immunization myself as nobody seems bothered to ask for it. I asked nurses, doctors about the routine screening of my baby. They said that the doctor Suhail Naik, a paediatrician posted in the hospital will do that. For two days, the so called noted paediatrician was untraced. On third day, 14th August, i found him walking in the corridor. I asked him to see my baby as i felt; he has some signs of Jaundice. He just touched his belly and walked away by saying, he is ok”, he said.
He said during the intervening night of 14th and 15th August, the baby start developing some serious signs of Jaundice and Abdominal distension which lead parents to anxiety as no paediatrician was available. “The baby was crying due to abdominal issues for the whole night. Early morning on 15th August, I start looking for a paediatric doctor in the hospital, but on pretext of shutdown in the valley none of them was available. An elderly staff member identified as Abdul Samad in the immunization section told me, it is strike today, so how do you expect doctors to be available in the hospital. He told me, he is from nearby place; otherwise he would have not come to the hospital for duty”, he said.
Later anxiously, he rushed his baby to the causality where a doctor, identified as Dr Mubashir initially declined to check his baby by saying that “I can’t touch this baby. Go to paediatrician. You people are latter protesting, shouting slogans against doctors, if any untoward happen to your baby”. Pertinently, the doctor was referring to the incident of 11th August when a newborn baby died of an alleged medical negligence in the same hospital.
He adds, latter on the same day, his wife was discharged from the hospital adding before leaving the hospital, he again visits casualty section where the same doctor prescribed some medicines after he was insisted.
The baby’s condition was deteriorated on the 17th August, he said. “We again rushed to the SHD Sopore where again no paediatrician was available in the evening. We rushed to the District hospital Baramulla. A humble lady doctor Shafia at Baramulla hospital performs medical checks of the baby which declares Jaundice. The lady doctor told us the delay could be a life-threatening. The baby was kept under observation and undergoing a medical care at the hospital”, he said.
When contacted Block Medical Officer (BMO) Sopore, Dr Sami, he said he will talk to the Dr Suhail Naik about the issue.
Worth to mention, Dr Suhail Naik is running a private clinic just opposite to the SDH Sopore. It is being alleged that the very doctor is showing negligent attitude in the hospital to fetch patients to his private clinic. Dr Suhail Naik allegedly often remains missing in the hospital during scheduled duty hours to attend his private clinic which is just few meters away from the hospital.
“He is cleverly managing his clinic by visiting hospital whenever he feels to do so and whenever he needs to go to clinic he went there. It means he is on duty and he is not at all”, said a reliable source in the hospital.
Ideally, If you give birth in a hospital, the medical staff will take care of getting your baby’s hearing and heart screenings done and will draw blood for the other tests by the time you leave. Typically they’ll send the blood sample off to a lab for analysis and the results will be sent back to the hospital. Your child’s doctor will call you to let you know the next step if the results show any cause for concern.
Most of the disorders your baby is checked for have no visible signs at birth. Catching these conditions early gives doctors a critical edge in treating them before they can cause your baby serious and lasting harm. Screening tests give only preliminary information that tells doctors whether to do more precise diagnostic testing, which is needed to determine whether there’s truly a problem.
Most babies are born healthy. However, some infants have a serious medical condition even though they look and act like all newborns. Newborn screening allows health professionals to identify and treat certain conditions before they make a baby sick. Most babies with these conditions who are identified at birth and treated early are able to grow up healthy with normal development.