They do not allow health department officials to check documents
The situation is not new to health officials. Many private hospitals refuse to give out all the information relating to the case file of a patient.
An official said private hospitals do not divulge information even when the Health Department officials go personally to collect it. “They are very uncooperative and bluntly refuse to allow our officials to take a look at their documents,” the official said.
District Health Officer Dr Thimmappa admitted that although hospitals alert his office about maternal deaths and their cause, no case sheets or details of treatment are attached.
He suggested that the figures of maternal mortality may also be under reported since hospitals do not want to admit maternal deaths that have occured in their hospital.
Information regarding maternal deaths is vital, as it enables the department to understand the cause of death and help plan programmes to prevent future deaths. The data is fed into the department’s Health Management Information System, which keeps details of the number of deaths, causes, treatment, etc.
The information also enables the department to carry out third party evaluation on the treatment administered to women, explained Dr V D Palekar, Project director (RCH), NRHM.
“Once we receive the case details, we do factual and verbal audit of the death. All private hospitals are supposed to send the details of maternal deaths to the respective district health official or taluk health official,” he said.
In the last few years, the department had encountered this problem with not only small hospitals but also some major private hospitals. However, Dr Thimmappa is hopeful that the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment Act will help solve the problem.
In the last financial year, 36 women died during childbirth in Bangalore Urban District (27), including the BBMP areas. The year before, 59 maternal deaths occurred with the BBMP alone reporting 39 deaths. Out of the seven deaths that took place in different private hospitals in the district last year, two women died indirectly of severe anaemia, with one each dying of postpartum haemorrhage, uterine rupture, etc. Interestingly, most of the women were aged between 18 and 29 years.
Officials of Yashomati Hospital, where the 20-year-old woman died, clarified that they had given the cause of death to the Health Department. “If the Health Department requires more information regarding the case, they need to send a written request. We have not received one from it in this case,” the official said.
Private Hospital and Nursing Homes Association president Dr H Paramesh, supporting the department’s need to access vital information, said, “We cannot hold back information if the government officials ask for it.”
(Published in Deccan Herald on 8th July, 2011)