The issue of shortage of nurses at the Cochin Medical College has to the fore after a patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) fell and fractured his leg a few days ago.

When the accident took place there were only three nurses to take care of 22 patients in the medical ICU and cardiac care units.

There are 39 beds in the ICU complex, which comprises a paediatric ICU with seven beds and a surgical ICU with 10 beds.

An inquiry has been launched into the incident following the submission of a written complaint by the 75-year-old patient’s relatives to Medical Director Raju Antony.

Mr. Antony said the medical college would provide free treatment to the patient.

He admitted that the accident was a lapse of duty. He said preliminary investigation revealed that a nurse was attending to the patient, but she could not stop the patient from falling because she was not facing him when he fell.

However, Mr. Antony agreed that there was a shortage of nurses at the over 500-bed medical college.

The management has started appointing nurses on a daily wage basis to meet the staff crunch, he said. The hospital has 100 nurses on its roll. After adding the daily wagers and deducting the absentees from the regular staff, there would be about 150 nurses on daily duty, Mr. Antony said.

The nurses’ association in the medical college has asked the management to provide wages according to the rule before recruiting more staff.

Daily wagers do not perform all the duties of a staff nurse, said a member of the association.

According to a doctor in the medical college, the number of nurses required is determined according to the number of beds. It does not take into account the nurses required in operation theatres, the out patient ward and a few ICU units.