Medical record woes ail govt hospitals

Medical record woes ail govt hospitals
Highlights

Have you been wondering how many deaths took place due to dengue this year? You will not get an answer as none of the hospitals in the city share data with the District Medical and Health Office (DM&HO). While government hospitals have medical and records section, maintaining records is the last thing that the department does.

Hyderabad: Have you been wondering how many deaths took place due to dengue this year? You will not get an answer as none of the hospitals in the city share data with the District Medical and Health Office (DM&HO). While government hospitals have medical and records section, maintaining records is the last thing that the department does.

In a reply to an RTI query, the Osmania General Hospital (OGH) states that they do not maintain medical records. The same is the case with Gandhi Hospital, Fever Hospital, Niloufer and several others. Dr A Gopal Kishan who retired as Superintendent of OGH in 1994 says, “The practice in government hospitals is to destroy records after 5-10 years as there is no space.”

Though there is a post of a statistical assistant whose duty is to maintain records, he is hardly seen doing his job. Dr Suresh, President, Osmania Medical College Doctors Forum says, “Previously case sheets used to be kept in racks, now the practice is discontinued. Also statistical assistants are moved from one department to another when there is shortage of staff. There is no concerted effort to collect and collate data.”

During outbreak of epidemics, an epidemiologist is appointed temporarily by the Directorate of Health who collects data and reports to the Central government. Experts feel that data ought to be collected at every stage and it has to be made compulsory by the Ministry of Health at the central level and Department of Health at the provincial.

But why are hospitals not reporting deaths? Lack of space, funds and manpower are reasons that officials give for not maintaining records. A senior official of DM&HO, Hyderabad said, “Three months back a memo was sent to the hospitals to share data as it is mandatory.

Since then about 25 hospitals started sharing but then it has to be uniform and done consistently.” In spite of an Indian Epidemic Act that mandates the sharing of data, hospitals in the city fail to do so.

“There is a system of reporting with form P, L form and S form for presumptive diagnosis, lab data and syndrome surveillance that emanates from community medicine but there is no authentic data on scores of deaths that occur due to several diseases.

Hospitals do not feel the need to improve health indicators and until this attitude prevails, there is no hope,” feels Dr Gopal Kishan.

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