CAG pulls up cancer hospital in West Bengal

March 18th, 2008 - 3:30 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has pulled up a state-run cancer hospital in West Bengal for its “lackadaisical management” that led to deterioration in patient care services. The CAG report tabled in parliament last week accused the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) in Kolkata for refusing to provide beds to patients “despite its availability”.

In 25 percent of the cases, nothing was mentioned in the patient’s folder about the type of treatment administered to them.

“The patient survey results brought out that in case of 47 percent of the surveyed 185 cases, the course of treatment was never explained to the patient and in 63 percent of the cases, side effects and follow-up treatment were not explained,” it said.

The institute, which is functioning without a regular director since Oct 2001, follows a system in which each department has a fixed number of beds reserved for its own patients, irrespective of the actual requirement or demand for beds by all patients, the CAG report said.

From August 2004 to May 2006 patients were refused beds despite availability of a good number of beds. “Most of these patients were advised emergency admission by the doctors of the institute in their prescriptions.”

They cited the example of a patient who was refused admission Oct 17, 2005 even though 56 beds were vacant and another patient was refused a bed on seven occasions despite availability of 11 to 18 beds.

Poor patients are provided free beds, free medicines and chemotherapy, but the report said the institute did not even have a regular purchase officer during the period the audit was conducted.

“There was no system of prompt procurement of urgently required medicines.” The report pointed out the institute medicine store was open only during office hours.

The institute’s drug committee had identified 30 emergency medicines. Of the 30 prescribed emergency medicines, CNCI never procured as many as 23.

Even narcotic drugs like morphine, which are required to provide relief to terminally ill cancer patients, were not stocked.

“As per patient survey, of 185 patients including 126 in-patients, none got the prescribed medicines from the hospital store and all of them had to purchase these medicines from outside.”

The report said: “The objective of offering free treatment along with free medicines to the poor patients was frustrated due to non-availability of medicines from the hospital.”

Scrutiny showed that basic amenities were not available. Toilets were not kept clean. There was no help desk and no proper system to call the patients in turn to see a doctor.

The institute did not have an ambulance of its own.

The report said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Dec 1999 placed a fund of Rs.1 million with the institute towards advance under the National Illness Assistance Fund (NIAF). The fund was meant for critically ill cancer patients from poor families.

It noted that there was delay in the assistance that caused major interruption in patients’ treatment.

The delay also increases the possibility of dropout rates among the patients, as it is difficult for a poor family to afford the expensive chemotherapy drugs, the CAG report added.

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