New Delhi, Nov 21 (PTI) Only a few hospitals have burn wards for treating victims of fire incidents in a city like Delhi, which has seen over 500 people getting injured in such incidents on an average every year from 2017.
Only a few hospitals such as the Centre-run Safdarjung Hospital and Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital and the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Narayan Hospital have full-fledged facilities for treating burn victims and some facilities are available at the State-run Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital.
Earlier this year, a burns and plastic surgery unit was inaugurated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Delhi Fire Services (DFS) Director Atul Garg wrote a letter to the chief executive officer of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) last month, flagging the issue.
"On October 9, an industrial building at Narela collapsed during a fire-fighting operation...this department...shifted the injured persons to the nearest Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra Hospital, where they were given first aid and referred to a higher centre as they were not having a burn ward. They were then shifted to Sir Gangaram Hospital, where the doctor denied admission as the hospital did not have a burn unit. It was very difficult to manage the situation as the emotional outrush was very high at that time," the letter read.
In the letter, Garg had urged that burn wards with trained specialist doctors and nurses be opened in all major private hospitals so the injured can get specialised medical treatment and care as quick as possible.
"The letter was written after the fire-fighters of our own departments engaged in the fire-fighting operations at Narela sustained burn injuries. That is when we got to know that no private hospital has a burn ward here and only a few government-run hospitals are equipped with burn wards," Garg told PTI.
According to the DFS' data, 549 people were injured and 79 died in fire-related incidents in 2017, 553 were injured and 95 died in 2018, 843 were injured and 100 died in 2019, 421 were injured and 41 died in 2020 while from January till November 19 in 2021, 327 people were injured and 70 died in such incidents.
Doctors at the burn wards of the government-run hospitals said no private hospital has a separate burn ward here, but some of those facilities have a few rooms where minor cases of burn injuries are treated. The severe cases are ultimately referred to the government hospitals that have a burn ward.
Most of the private hospitals contacted for the story requested anonymity and cited the cost involved in setting up a burn unit as the main reason for not having such a facility.
According to an official from a leading hospital chain in Delhi-NCR, a burn ward requires a lot of money and along with isolation for the patient, it also requires a certain air pressure. Calling it akin to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the official said in severe burn cases, the chances of survival are quite low and the treatment requires months and several doctors from different disciplines.
According to a senior doctor at the Apollo Hospital, they do not have a designated burn ward but if a patient is brought to the facility and they have a positive isolation area or the ICU available, they admit the patient.
"For burn victims, the first part is to hydrate them well and the secondary part is to keep them in isolation. If we do not have a positive isolation area, we refer them to other hospitals. The isolation room for the burn patient is such where the outside air cannot come in," the doctor said.
LNJP Medical Director Suresh Kumar said the hospital can treat 30 patients with burn injuries and it also has an ICU and a ward for such patients. He said patients with burns have a high risk of contracting an infection and a multi-disciplinary treatment approach is needed.
A doctor from the RML Hospital said they have a burn and plastic surgery unit with a capacity of 26 beds and around 20-22 of those are usually occupied.
"Patients admitted with burn injuries take a long time to heal, so we cannot discharge them in a day or two. Once a patient is fit to go home, he is discharged. So occupancy that way remains 20-22 patients every day," he said.
However, in case of minor burn injuries, the patients get discharged within a week.
According to the doctor, when the burn unit was started years ago, it was not as well-equipped like the one in the Safdarjung Hospital and thus, patients with severe injuries were referred to that hospital. But now, RML is also well equipped and patients with severe burn injuries are treated in the hospital.
"Whatever facilities are available in Safdarjung, those are available in RML too. We do not refer patients as we can also deal with severe burn injury cases," he said.
A senior doctor at the Safdarjung Hospital said the burns, plastic and maxillofacial surgery unit of the hospital has 64 beds and ICU facilities in the ward.
Recalling that the Delhi bomb blast victims were treated here, he said the facility is fully equipped and it is one of the largest burn units in the country that has the capacity to treat thousands of severe cases of burn injuries throughout the year. PTI AMP/SLB RC
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