Tag Archives: casualty

The Unforgettable Compliment

The Unforgettable Compliment
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

All six casualty beds were full, the room was full of noises: nurses, fearful and angry patients, relatives, and wardboys trying to move stretchers and wheelchairs in and out. This chaos didn’t affect my concentration anymore. It was late night, heavily raining, my colleague Deepa and myself were the only two doctors- interns then- in the civil hospital casualty. She was finishing the paperwork in the side room. Behind a curtain, I was trying to remove a metal piece stuck in the back of a kid who had blown a firecracker bomb with a tin container covering it. I started stitching the gaping wound once the metal piece was out and cleaning was complete. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Just then a girl walked in, all wet and panicked, with another small girl upon a stretcher. I recognized her instantly: she was a classmate from my junior college, Ruta. As the patient was shifted to the bed, Ruta frantically shouted, enquiring for doctors. The nurses had already started checking her patient’s vitals. I finished bandaging the stitched wound, and came out from behind the curtain, removing my gloves. She saw and instantly recognized me too. “You are Rajas, right? Remember me? I am Ruta, your classmate.” She started sobbing, now that she met a familiar face. Her sister, about 15 years old, had had a head injury, falling from a bike, and had just vomited. She was woozy, irritable and confused. I ordered an X ray (CT scan was not available in that civil hospital) of her head and neck. IV line was started and necessary drugs injected. I reassured Ruta that her sister was stable, and continued with other patients.

My subconscious kept on playing memories of the past on some deep screens.
Ruta was exceptionally beautiful and vivacious. She had many fans. I liked her too, but there was no interaction: her group unlikely to engage with nerds like myself. They were a group of happy-go-lucky, good looking and muscular guys and stylish, good looking girls. They were mostly into movies, masti, dance, gymming, rides and food. I was not only preoccupied with a lot of classes and study, but also too shy to belong to such a group. Somewhere I envied those boys, they had so much advantage interacting with girls, with all the time and money they had. However, muscles are not my kind of statement, although (Thank God!) I have always enjoyed excellent health and fitness. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Once we finished the junior college, I never saw them. Medical courses hardly allow any time for extracurricular activities. The only silver lining was that there still were beautiful and intellectual girls in the class, and some of them respected and liked nerds too!

As Ruta waited by her sister, I kept on attending the cases that came in. From women in labour to heart attacks in shock, from bullets in the chest to rapes, one night in a casualty shows more pain than many know in a lifetime.

A foreigner couple came in, with their small boy bitten by a bee, he had developed severe reaction, his breathing was obstructed because of the throat swelling from inside. They kept on weeping as we all rushed to inject steroids and other medicines to the child. In some time the kid stabilized. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Then the police brought in a drunk driver who had rammed his Bullet bike into another’s. Our duty was to perform a detailed examination, collect blood sample and opine whether he was drunk or not. I was shocked: he was my schoolmate. He recognized me too. “Raja? Dekh yaar ye log mujhe andar kar rahe hain (Look these people are jailing me) he said, “Tu kuchh kar yaar (please do something)”. This was difficult. He was going to hate me for life probably, but I had no choice. I wrote his report. I felt sad, but there was no time to express it.
A snake bitten farmer and a newly wed woman with over 70 percent burns were brought in almost together, both gasping. Deepa and myself ran around to stabilize them, the medical officer came in too, but the burns woman had arrested just as they entered the casualty. We intubated the farmer, who was sinking, while we struggled to get things right. He was shifted to the ICU upstairs. We started finishing the paperwork. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It was about 4 AM, now there was a relative calm in the casualty. Sleepy relatives had found corners to doze off. All six patients were relatively stable.

“Excuse me Rajas, Is there a canteen nearby where I can get some tea?” Ruta asked.
“Yes, across the road, in the lane opposite the gate” I replied.
“Will you please join me?” she asked.
Borrowing an umbrella from a ward boy, and informing Deepa, I walked Ruta across the street. We stood sipping the hot tea by the side of the road, under the beautiful rain.

“I have a confession to make” she said suddenly: “I never knew there was this side to life: I only thought my life was to be enjoyed without a worry. If someone had given me a million rupees yesterday to stay up all night listening to other people cry, see wounds and deaths all night, I would have declined and ran away. I cannot stand anyone whining, and here you all are, listening to nothing else, fighting not only death but also expectation, anger and uncertainty. We made fun of nerds like you, and today I meet one, saving lives! I don’t know if I will ever save a life, and here you are saving many every day! I feel how superficial I was! I respect you and what you do. I now think you docs are superheroes”.
We are used to such overwhelmed compliments by patients just relieved of fear. I just smiled. She read my face. ” No, I am not saying this because my sister is admitted today, but because I feel it inside after seeing what happened here”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I thanked her, adding that it was not wrong to have fun and look good, confessing that medicos often secretly miss those things, none of us gets any time for that.

Needless to say, I walked back thanking God, and feeling proud. This was one simple closure, yet so essential!

My co-intern Deepa gave me the expected wicked mischievous smile when I returned.
“Today the tea must have been very tasty na?” she asked, sarcasm overflowing from a face deliberately made over-innocent.
“Solid” I replied with matching sarcasm; “Oxytocin-Dopamine waali chai thi (It had oxytocin and dopamine)”.

We discharged Ruta’s sister the next day. After two days, I received a handmade greeting from Ruta, in which she had written the most unforgettable compliment I ever received:

“You healed more than what was injured. Thank You!”

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Dedicated to all medical students, interns and resident doctors.
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Emergency: The Doctor Is Not In

Emergency: The Doctor Is Not In
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“It’s an emergency, doctor” shouted the angry son at my OPD door at closing time, around 11 PM. We rushed to the casualty. It indeed was an emergency. His father had developed a stroke, and was found to have a moderate sized bleed in his brain.

His younger son who had done some medical diploma in some yet-unrecognised pathy had stopped his father’s blood pressure and diabetes medicines three months ago. “I was observing him at home. The BP was high and the sugar was around 300, but I was trying my own medicines, as I don’t have faith in allopathic medicines” the son told me without a trace of shame or guilt.

“How long has your father had these high BP and sugar levels?” I asked him, impatience choking me.
“May be a month” he had replied coldly.
The treatment initiated by the casualty doctors had stabilised the patient. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
As we returned to OPD, the angry resident doctor with me said “He should be booked for attempted murder”.

Within three days of the admission, both the sons of this patient decided to take him home. Patient had still not recovered his consciousness well, and was being fed via a feeding tube. “We will manage him at home. We will call you if anything is required” they told me.

Grown up by now, I replied “I am not available on phone. Please see your local doctor or take him to the nearest hospital should he have any problem”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“What if it is an emergency? He is under you care” the elder son asked aloud, in a threatening voice.
“He is not under my care once discharged. We will advise him medicines and give other instructions. I am not your paid servant. I am not available for consultation on cellphone” I told them my working hours. I had not become a doctor to be abused by those who wanted to save time and money. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Then over four months later, the two brothers entered my room at 9 PM.

“Doctor, our father is having vomitings with blood since yesterday morning. He is not responding well when we speak. Can you prescribe something?” the elder brother asked “He is at home, we thought we will first give him some medicine and try”.
“Why didn’t you admit him even when he had bloody vomiting yesterday?” I asked, almost knowing the answer.
“We thought it will stop. Also, there was nobody to admit him. We both have our office jobs.
“I cannot prescribe anything without seeing such a serious patient. You must take him to the nearest hospital with a gastroenterologist. Please treat this as an emergency” I told them. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

However their calm was unruffled.
“We will take him to some hospital near our home. They will treat him immediately no?” asked the younger one.
Before I could reply, the elder brother raised his voice again: “They will have to. Or we will show them. This is an emergency. If something goes wrong, we will bring down the hospital”.

In two days, we read the news of a small nursing home ransacked and destroyed, doctors manhandled by relatives because this patient had died. The doctors who tried to save him were arrested under an allegation of “attempted murder”.

The word “emergency” is as familiar to every doctor as his own name. Hundreds of deaths in casualty are related to delayed admission at the terminal moment, and no one looks at the gruesome ignorance, neglect and delay behind the scenes, which equals murder by the patient’s own friends/ relatives. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande. Addicted to thoughtless emotional outbursts, our society usually reacts without logical thinking except few intellectuals who do not constitute a vote bank.

Drug reaction? Beat up the doc!. Patient in casualty or hospital died? Beat up the doc! Arrest them! Jail them! If the same patient is killed due to wrong treatment by his relatives, or dies at home because he was never taken to the hospital by family members: it’s okay!

Many who are advised right tests don’t do those. Many who are advised right medicines do not take them. Many do not undergo the correct procedures / surgeries advised. Because the patient is “King consumer!” Then when their health deteriorates. It is suddenly the medical profession that becomes responsible for everything that goes wrong.

Time has come for IMA to demand an enquiry into the circumstances few hours / days / weeks prior to every death in casualty and emergency where the doctor / hospital was blamed. Right from neglect, ignored medical advice to hidden information, many skeletons will tumble out. An IMA legal cell should start filing cases of culpable homicide in every such case. Then alone, equality principle will prevail.

Time has come when small hospitals, nursing homes and clinics, which were earlier trying to rescue serious patients in emergency, will display this board after the regular OPD hours:

“Emergency services not available. Doctor NOT in campus”.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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