SAT standoff: panel begins probe

Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: A two-member committee set up by the Medical College Principal has begun inquiring into the incident on Thursday night at the SAT hospital when the war of words between junior doctors and staff nurses inside the labour room over the division of patient-care responsibilities resulted in a four-hour flash strike by the nursing staff which disrupted the functioning of the hospital.

The authorities had hoped that they had resolved the weeks-long cold war between junior doctors and nursing staff over the division of ward duties through a circular, evolved after several rounds of discussions with both parties and which clearly spelt out the responsibilities of each.

However, many senior doctors point out that while in any hospital the nurses are responsible for carrying out the doctors’ instructions on patient-care, a circular issued by the Director of Medical Education affirming the same has now become a source of provocation for more potential clashes between junior doctors and nurses.

The latest issue at the SAT hospital started with the junior doctor in the labour room instructing the duty nurse to administer Pitocin intravenously to a pregnant women to induce labour pain. With the duty nurse refusing to follow the doctor’s instruction, the resident directed the junior doctor to administer the drug to the patient and put up a formal complaint with the Head of OB & GYN department. According to hospital sources, the head of the department sought an explanation about the incident from the duty nurse. The nursing staff staged a sit-in before the Superintendent’s office and went on a flash strike. They accused the junior doctors of having misbehaved with the duty nurse, which was stoutly denied by the doctors. The situation remained volatile for a while, with the Nurses’ Association joining issue. But the authorities managed to save the situation by ordering an inquiry and at the same time pointing out that the nursing staff could not refuse to carry out the doctors’ instructions.

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