* No bed for snake bite victim at Ragama hospital ICU
DG Health calls for report on childís death
by Don Asoka Wijewardena

The Director General of Health Services has called for a complete report from the Ragama Hospital authorities on the death of a 6-year-old girl, a victim of snake bite, on Sunday.

The child, Medina, who was admitted to the hospital at 3.45 p.m. died at 8.30 p.m. without proper care because there was no bed for her in the Intensive Care Unit, Hospital sources said.

The Hospitalís Deputy Director Dr. Ms. Lalani Gurusinghe told The Island that the child was brought to the Ragama hospital at 3.45 p.m. on March 2 and the parents had said that the child was bitten by a viper. In accordance with the snake bite treatment procedure, the child was admitted to a ward and constantly examined for vital signs.

She said the snake bite treatment procedure had been followed and she was kept under constant observation. It was the accepted procedure of the medical experts to monitor and observe the patient for sometime before administering anti-venine injections. Only after recording the vital signs, medical experts would decide whether the patient was in need of the injection, she said.

She said that the doctors at the Ragama hospital performed their duties without negligence, but the patient could not be admitted to the ICU because there was no bed. Had the child been admitted to ICU her life could have been saved. In accordance with the hospital policies and procedures a comprehensive inquiry was held and a complete report on the childís death had been prepared to be submitted to the Director General of Health Services, she said.

A medical expert at the Ragama hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity said that the non-availability of beds in the ICU for emergency cases had caused enormous problems in the care of patients. A number of similar cases had been recorded at the hospital due to the inadequate bed capacity in the ICU.

He said that whenever snake bite, cardiac and accident patients were brought to the Ragama hospital, authorities had no alternative but to call the Gampaha, Negombo, Kalutara and Mirigama hospitals to check whether emergency patients could be transferred to those hospitals. Although the Ragama hospital authorities had been requesting the other hospitals, in most cases those hospitals, too, did not have vacant ICU beds. He blamed the Health Ministry for not increasing the bed capacity in ICUs throughout hospital network in the country. He also said that inadequate bed capacities in the ICUs had threatened the lives of emergency patients as a whole.

He added that the child had also passed blood with urine (haemoglobin urea) and the possible cause of death could be due to Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation of blood because the child was not treated in the ICU.


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