Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has issued directives to all civic-run hospitals to put up Standard operative procedure (SOP, a protocol of transferring patient from one hospital to another) on notice boards across the hospital's premises. This decision came after Mumbai Suburban Railway Passenger Association had filed complaint to the MMC against the doctors of Bhagawati hospital, Borivali.
MMC is a statutory body that has the power to suspend a doctor's licence if she/he is found guilty of malpractice. The body also maintains that the registration of the allopath instate, she/he cannot practice without registration in another state.
Two and a half years ago, social activist Samir Zaveri, who represents Mumbai Suburban Railway Passenger Association approached the MMC against the doctors for giving inappropriate treatment to a victim of a railway accident.
On 24 November 2010, one of the passengers met with an accident on Kandivli station. As a result of this, one of his hands was amputated. After that, the railway police shifted the victim to Bhagwati hospital. Here, the doctors gave him basic treatment and suggested that the patient ought to be shifted to Sion hospital for further treatment.
In the existing SOP of BMC hospital, all patients requiring specialty/super specialty intervention, with valid reasons, can be transferred to the higher possible centre. Resident doctors should inform doctors at the higher centre hospital about the transfer and reason for it. After confirming the transfer, the Resident Medical Officer (RMO) should fill the transfer memo with a detailed history and attach a note to the medical officer on duty.
This SOP also mentions that the RMO should write on the transfer memo the name of the doctor of the higher centre who she/he contacted. The medical officer or sister in charge should make necessary arrangements of an ambulance for transfer and provide the staff nurse/ward boy accompanying the patient. The RMO should accompany the patient during the transfer. All resuscitative equipment and emergency medicines should be made available while transferring. All resident doctors should inform the relatives of the patient about the reason of transferring.
"In this case, our main objection is that the Bhagwati hospital doctors failed to implement the SOP. After our complaint, MMC gave directives to all hospitals they should implement the SOP and post the same on notice boards in visible areas at the hospital campus. The patient's life was saved, but due to the non-following of SOP, the patient and his relative went through a lot of pain," said Zaveri.
He added, "SOP have all the norms and protocols which the patient benefits from, but civic hospital doctors don't have time to implement in a proper way. We are happy that at least now, patients can see this SOP and demand their rights, should doctors fail to do their duty."
"We had a hearing on this case and decided that there is need for some protocol for transferring the patient to another hospital. There should be proper guidelines which need to be followed. If BMC have their guidelines, then they need to follow it for the benefit of patients," said Dr Shivkumar Utture, senior surgeon and member of MMC.