With the fever season peaking and the rush of patients to Victoria and Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospitals ever on the rise, a severe shortage of doctors in the Department of Medicine has left the existing staff overburdened

Salma Sultana (43), who went to the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital for recurring fever, was distraught after the doctor hardly spent three minutes examining her.

“I had waited for two hours for my turn but the consultation was over in minutes. The doctor did not even have time to listen to me properly. Where else can we poor patients go?” she asked.

In fact, doctors in the hospital affiliated to the Medicine Department of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) are themselves concerned about not devoting enough time to their patients. But they say they can’t help it, as there is a perennial shortage of doctors.

Staff crunch

Sources in BMCRI told The Hindu that of the 40 sanctioned doctors’ posts in the Department of Medicine, only 27 were filled, with doctors dividing work among themselves in Bowring and Victoria hospitals. Now with at least three doctors from this department having applied for admission to post-doctoral courses (Doctorate of Medicine-DM), the strength is all set to reduce further.

With the fever season peaking and the rush of patients to Victoria and Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospitals ever on the rise, a severe shortage of doctors in the Department of Medicine has left the existing staff overburdened. In turn, consultation and examination does not last beyond three minutes. On Monday, the out-patient department (OPD) of Victoria Hospital had over 600 patients. The doctors had to not only handle them, but also rush to take MBBS classes.

Work pressure

With at least two doctors away from the hospital on any given day (off after night duty) apart from at least three away on leave or on deputation for VIP duty, the work pressure on the remaining doctors was increasing day by day, explained a senior consultant from Bowring Hospital.

“The fluctuating weather has brought with it a slew of infections and fevers. Cases of dengue, chikungunya, malaria, upper respiratory tract infections and viral fevers are on the rise. Apart from these, hundreds of patients flood us for consultations regarding diabetes, cardiac and kidney problems. How can the existing doctors handle the heavy rush?” the consultant asked.

Expressing concern over not getting enough time to examine each patient, another senior doctor said: “We need at least 10 to 15 minutes to see each patient to study the symptoms and diagnose the case. Hurried examination is not good.”

He also pointed out that the visits to the wards for follow up on in-patients was also turning into a hurried affair. “We are left with no option as we have to cover all the patients — over 80 most of the time. That apart, we have the important task of teaching our students too.”

BMCRI dean and director O.S. Siddappa, who initially denied there was any shortage, said the selection of the three doctors who had applied for DM seats was not yet finalised. “The list is yet to come. But we will not relieve them just like that. We will take up this issue with the State government,” he added.