An address proof is the last thing patients expect doctors would need. But at Safdarjung Hospital, those coming to get anti-rabies vaccine are being asked to produce ration cards and similar such address proofs.
And only those coming from nearby localities qualify for the jab.
This, a doctor said on conditions of anonymity, is the hospital’s way of dealing with vaccine shortage. Hospital authorities, though, say this locality-wise distribution of patients is to balance out the burden in city hospitals. “Some hospitals receive a bulk of patients, many have few patients to treat,” Safdarjung Hospital’s Casualty Medical Officer (CMO) Dr V C Agarwal said. “Our decision will help in balancing out such inconsistencies.”
“Eventually,” Dr Agarwal added, “it will also benefit patients and protect their interests.”
By the hospital’s rationale, if a resident of Madangir is bitten by a dog while at INA Market, he will first have to visit a hospital in his locality instead of rushing to Safadarjung — the nearest hospital.
The decision was taken a couple of months ago, and Safdarjung Hospital has been turning away patients from areas that hospital authorities say do not fall under its “jurisdiction”. The “jurisdiction” reaches out to areas coming under Sarojini Nagar Police Station. A circular to this affect, issued by Additional Medical Superintendent Dr Sudhir Chandra, has been put up in the Casualty area.
Calling the logic “unconstitutional”, a senior professor at the hospital, who did not want to be named, said: “A patient will rush to the nearest hospital in any emergency. A hospital cannot function like a police station. Asking for address proofs before administering an injection is ridiculous.”
The Health department, meanwhile, says no such instruction has been issued. “I will get to the bottom of this,” Joint Secretary (Health) Vineet Chaudhary said.
“Patients are being turned away every day just because they do not have the right address,” a resident doctor on duty in the Casualty said. “Why should the common man suffer because the government hospital is not adequately stocked with anti-rabies medicine?”
The hospital spokesperson maintained that division of patients would increase their efficiency during emergency. “Delhi has been divided into zones and this helps the police in their everyday functioning. If the patient load is also divided as per these zones, no hospital will be overloaded,” Safdarjung Hospital PRO Dr V K Dogra said, “Equal distribution of patients in all city hospitals will help us perform better, especially in case of emergencies.
“We are just following rules and catering to patients who come under areas covered by our (Sarojini Nagar) police station.”
The Big Bite
No official census of canine population in Delhi
18,428 dogs sterilised in 2007
17,665 cases of dog bites so far in 2008
705 reported cases of monkey attacks
(Source: MCD statistics)