A welcome health ministry decision

Published: 01:05, Mar 10,2017


THE health ministry decision to give identity cards to patient attendants in hospitals is welcome. The use of identity cards by physicians, nurses and employees on duty has, as New Age reported on Thursday, also been made mandatory. The decision was made after the recent protests by intern physicians at the suspension of four of their fellows for assaulting a patient’s attendant at Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital in Bogra. In this context, there are reasons to believe that the decision is meant to prevent any untoward incidents and misunderstanding between attendants and physicians, nurses or other hospital staff as such a situation neither offers services. Meanwhile, there has been a wrong practice among visitors and attendants to overcrowd patients’ rooms although all this is not only disturbing for patients, who require a peaceful and clam environment for recovery, but also may put patients at risk of infection. Besides, while there are guidelines, albeit without any enforcement in many cases, for visitors and attendants of patients at some hospitals, mostly private, most hospitals in lack any such guidelines.
Therefore, there are reasons to believe that the decision at hand, if implemented to the letter and in spirit, may prevent patients’ rooms at the hospitals from being overcrowded and noisy as well. However, the government needs to realise that because of the failure of workers in many hospitals, regardless of the reasons, to provide the promised services for patients, relatives of patients have to play the caregiver’s role in many cases. In other words, if the decision is enforced without any effective steps to ensure proper service delivery for patients in hospitals, it will only add to the sufferings of patients. Additionally, incidents of harassment of patient visitors and attendants by hospital staff, especially those employed to check against the entry of excessive visitors, which is reportedly almost commonplace in public and private hospitals, may increase further. Allegations have it that there are many hospitals, mostly public, in Dhaka and elsewhere where an excessive number of visitors enter at a time just by bribing security guards at hospital gates while hospital workers demand money from the patients in exchange for the services that are supposed to be free. Also, marketing representatives of pharmaceutical companies and middlemen in complicit with hospital administrations are reported to usually overcrowd healthcare centres, hampering the services to be delivered by physicians and other personnel there.
Overall, to ensure a congenial atmosphere in hospitals, the government needs to streamline all public and private hospital authorities, on the one hand, and strictly enforce the decision at hand, on the other. Not only that, it also needs to ensure a sustained oversight of the compliance with the decision to produce an expected result.

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