PESHAWAR: A row between the administration and surgeons over high mortality rate due to surgeries at the cardiovascular department of the Lady Reading Hospital is adversely affecting patient care.

The hospital’s administration has stopped surgeries at the department citing high mortality rate as the reason. However, the surgeons dispute the claim and demand clinical forensic audit of surgeries to reveal the ‘truth’.

On April 12, the LRH administration ordered an immediate suspension of surgical procedures at the cardiovascular department after the surgeons demanded provision of equipment and instruments for effectively operating on patients.

Surgeons dispute high mortality rate ‘claim’, demand clinical forensic audit

A letter sent to the administration by the department headed by a professor on April 9 complaining about staff shortage and lack of equipment.

The department insisted that most of its instruments were 13-year-old, while the other basic equipment was not available.

The administration formally told the department that an independent evaluation of the goods and staff demanded was under way.

When contacted, LRH medical director Dr Suleiman Khan said the administration was trying to provide some equipment to the cardiovascular department on an urgent basis for the resumption of surgeries.

“We are striving to ensure quality treatment and strengthen services in consultation with our cardiovascular surgeons,” he said.

Dr Suleiman said the administration took care of doctors and patients at the same time.

“We hold consultants and other staff members in high esteem and want to build their capacity and improve infrastructure for the better patient care,” he said.

As the review of the items sought by heart surgeons may take one to three months to complete, the patients began to suffer. Most of them cannot afford surgeries in private hospitals.

A month ago, the hospital’s board of governors reviewed the department’s data and found out that the death rate in heart surgeries was between 10 and 30 per cent against the international standard of four per cent.

While observing that the life of patients shouldn’t be risked, it asked the cardiovascular surgeons to undergo 8-12 months training in Karachi before resuming work.The surgeons were asked to produce a certificate from their respective supervisors recommending that they be allowed to resume operations.

The board also expressed concern about the prolonged duration of operations and asked surgeons them to reduce it to benefit more and more patients.

Sources said the department used to do 30-35 surgeries a month but the administration wanted them to reduce the surgery duration from average six hours to four each.

However, the surgeons argued that they had been working for 10-25 years and were instrumental in establishing the only full-fledged cardiovascular department of the province at the hospital and therefore, they didn’t need training.

They called for the provision of the required instruments to improve performance.

The surgeons also said the most complicated cases were also a cause of mortality rate in surgeries.

They said the mortality rate was eight per cent only.

The surgeons said they didn’t need further training as they had already been acting as trainers.

They said the 40-bedded department was virtually non-functional as they sat idle.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019