Glitches in the hospital bed allocation system of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are adding to the anxiety of families of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Take the case of Monisha Gupta (name changed), whose mother was in a high dependency unit (HDU) bed allotted by the city’s civic body. Her condition worsened and she needed to be upgraded to an ICU bed. “Hospital staff told me that when they sought an ICU bed through the software, the HDU bed occupied by the patient was displayed as vacant in the BBMP’s bed allotment portal. This meant that it was back in the system ready to be allotted to someone else even though my mother was still using it, and there was no guarantee of her getting an ICU bed,” she recounted.
It was almost a day later that the confusion was sorted out and her mother upgraded to an ICU bed in the same hospital. “This is a serious systemic issue that needs to be resolved,” Ms. Gupta said.
She is not alone. In another glitch in the bed allocation portal, many patients who are allotted ICU beds land up at hospitals only to realise that they are already occupied. Sources in hospitals where such cases were reported said it was not the case of bed blocking. “More often than not, patients being treated in general beds or HDU beds in a hospital would have been upgraded to an ICU bed in that same hospital. The civic body has instructed hospitals that priority must be given to patients who are already being treated in house and need an upgrade, rather than a new patient being allotted an ICU bed,” said hospital management staff.
A senior civic official, in charge of bed allotment in the city, acknowledged these glitches in the software. “The software is under review and they will be fixed,” he said.
“Hospitals update bed status on the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) portal, which is reflected live on the BBMP bed allotment software, creating this confusion. We are thinking of introducing a time lag of a few minutes between the two portals for upgrading of beds for in-house patients to take priority,” the official added.