A deceptive calm prevailed in the city’s government hospitals on Monday. Doctors were prepared for the worst. The previous two days had seen a considerably high inflow of patients. Extended weekends are busy times for government hospitals with most of the patients being accident victims.

“If on regular working days, we get 60 to 70 head injury patients, weekends usually see us attending to over a 100. The numbers are especially high during long weekends such as the puja holidays, New Year and Pongal,” said K. Deiveegan, head of neurosurgery department at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.

While many seek treatment as outpatients, either for fractures or scrapes, others sustain serious injuries and require several weeks of in-patient care. Often, these people would have been driving drunk and would not even be able to recall how the accident occurred, the doctor added.

The 108 ambulance service received the usual number of 2,200 calls a day during the weekend. “We noticed a five per cent spike in accidents,” said B. Prabhudoss, regional manager.

According to doctors at casualty wards of government hospitals, minor injuries could be treated at smaller clinics run by the government or the Corporation. If primary health centres are sufficiently equipped with doctors and nurses, then deaths such as those of the 11-year-old snakebite victim would not have occurred, said a health department official.

The family panicked and rushed from hospital to hospital. GH Dean V. Kanagasabai said the death could have been prevented had the family gone to the government hospitals in Chengalpet or Chromepet, which have 24-hour emergency care facilities and trained doctors to treat snakebite.

“The protocol requires monitoring the patient for 48 hours and judicious administering of the anti-venom vaccine as it could otherwise cause allergic reactions,” said S. Raghunanthan, head of toxicology department, GH

Under a Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project-funded programme, doctors and nurses in the State are being trained in protocols to treat poison victims. GH’s toxicology department has so far trained 570 healthcare professionals in 19 sessions. The trained professionals are provided with refresher courses too.

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