Nurse shortage hits kids’ hospitals

City Health

The existing nursing staff has to look after over 100 patients in a day.

Government-run children’s hospitals in the city, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health (IGICH) and Vanivilas Hospital face a shortage of nurses, which is affecting patient care.

A nursing officer at IGICH said the medical ward, which is the biggest ward in the hospital, has only two nursing officers looking after 400 patients a day. The surgical ward of the hospital also faces a shortage of nurses. The nursing officer said the problem has existed for years and that she has to look after over 100 patients.

A woman, who was admitted to Vanivilas and just had a miscarriage, said that nurses visited her once or twice a day and explained what she had to do and how she had to clean herself. This contrasts with the exceptional care and companionship, both physical and psychological, that experts recommend for anyone who has a miscarriage.

The husband of a woman who is pregnant and was walking beside the sitting area at Vanivilas said that there is a delay in the documentation process as well because of the staff shortage.

The Indian nursing council (INC) recommendations of nursing staffing norms by the Staff Inspection Unit show that normal wards should have one staff nurse/nursing sister for every six beds. Special wards like pediatrics require one staff nurse for every four beds and intensive care units (ICU) require a nursing sister for every bed.

Nurses at IGICH say they are overworked and exhausted

However, Dr. Sumithra Devi, Nursing Superintendent at Vanivilas said, “The hospital is unable to follow the INC recommendations due to the shortage of nurses, which is why one staff nurse looks after 30 patients.”

A nursing officer at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) ward of Vanivilas said the workload is more and she is exhausted. She said she had to look after 25-30 patients a day but said it does not affect the patients and they are discharged on time after treatment. She said the problem of staff shortage has existed for four to five years.

Devi said that the problem has been exacerbated following the establishment of different specialization units like the PICU,  neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and more. She said many nurses are retiring, getting married and leaving. Further, an increased patient intake has contributed to the existing problem.

She said there is no possibility of direct recruitment at the hospital because it is attached to Bangalore Medical College Research Institute (BMCRI), which is an autonomous institution.

However, a Community Medicine Specialist said that a shortage of “doctors, nurses or any other medical staff compromises the quality of health care provided by a hospital.” He added that the treatment of patients should be the priority of a hospital and such a shortage makes that difficult to manage.