Friday, July 24, 2015

An unusual experience concerning medical care delivery

In the past few weeks, I had to accompany preterm, extremely small babies to transfer them to the Children's Hospital in Taif. The first such incident was event-free as the baby reached the hospital in reasonably good health and was handed over to the NICU in the proper way. 

The second such incident occurred a few nights back. This was a 28-week male child who was gasping at birth and needed active resuscitation for nearly 3 hours before the baby stabilised a bit to transfer to Taif. During these 3 hours, the baby needed to be given artificial breathing. The insertion of a tube into his airways needed the expertise of an anaesthetist not once, not twice, but up to 4 times. 

When we were en route to Taif, the child gradually deteriorated. By the time we reached the destination, unfortunately, we had almost lost the baby. The final end came after another hour when the resuscitating team at the Children's Hospital announced that the baby had died - about half an hour after the child had been received by them.

The incident was definitely very unfortunate and may depress the readers of this otherwise positive blog. The reason why I am actually including this incident in my blog is to make readers understand why working in a peripheral area with lack of facilities can cause such unfortunate outcomes. The distance from Al Muwayh to the Children's Hospital is nearly 200 km. The risk to an extremely sick child is indeed very high and even if the ambulance driver drives very fast at speeds of 160 kmph or more, it still takes nearly 2 hours to reach the NICU, because of city traffic. 

There are no easy answers to this, and the medical establishment all over the world is worried about such problems. In some rare circumstances, developed countries do transfer patients by air ... but this requires an infrastructure that is highly expensive to develop and very difficult to secure for a normal patient who is not a VIP or well-connected. 

I welcome comments. 

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