Private hospitals must have neonatal ICUs, feel doctors

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Private hospitals must have neonatal ICUs, feel doctors

Doctors in the UAE have suggested making neonatal intensive care units (NICU) compulsory for all private hospitals to overcome the crisis of bedspace.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Tue 20 Nov 2012, 8:36 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:45 PM

They have also urged pregnant women to register with equipped facilities as early as possible so as not to be turned away at the last minute and have also asked fellow doctors to offer the right guidance to patients.

The suggestions come after Khaleej Times published on Monday the case of 27-week pregnant Pushpa who was turned away from six hospitals in three emirates. With premature labour pains, Pushpa travelled from Sharjah to Ajman and then to Dubai for over 10 hours searching for a hospital that would take her in. Finally accepted by one only 10 minutes before she delivered, Pushpa lost her child three days later. Doctors told her that her child could have been saved if she had arrived earlier at the hospital.

Following the story, a number of readers wrote in to express sympathy with Pushpa. Many others wrote to share similar experiences and hoped authorities would take notice of the issue.

Dr Abdullah Al Khayat, CEO of Latifa Hospital in Dubai said that currently the NICU was full. “We are overbooked by over 100 per cent,” he said. “Space has been made to accommodate 17 extra patients. We have 34 beds but 51 patients,” he said. Plans are afoot to expand the NICU in another 12 months, he added.

“We also have tie-ups with all hospitals with NICU facilities for referral provided the expectant mother has pre-registered with us,” he said.

Dr Aref Nouryani, CEO of Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah, another hospital that turned Pushpa away, said that they were facing similar problems daily. “We are short of beds as compared with the number of people that come to the hospital,” he explained, adding that a serious case will never be turned away.

He also said that people preferred to visit the government facility since it was cheaper than many private hospitals.

“Most cases that come to us are high risk and late presentations,” he said. Dr Nouryani also said that if a patient cannot be

All private hospitals must have neonatal ICUs, say doctors accommodated, they are guided to another government facility.

“We have a tie-up with Al Baraha in Dubai.” He added that the hospital was in talks with the health ministry to find a solution. With a bed space of 10, the hospital is currently accommodating 12 patients.

Recently, the ministry has opened a 16-bed mother-and-child facility in Ajman.

Dr Obaid Al Khudaim, Director Al Baraha Hospital, said that sometimes patients have to be turned away because the hospital is not equipped to handle babies that need special care. “I cannot accept a patient if I do not have the capacity and specialty,” he said. The hospital has 12 NICU beds with occupancy of 90 per cent.

Equipping all private hospitals with NICUs can be a solution, said Dr Khayat. “This would reduce the burden on government hospitals.”

All hospital heads suggested that women register with them well in advance. “Preferential treatment will be given to women who have registered,” said Dr Khayat.

“Doctors also have a responsibility of raising awareness and people should know they are part of this problem,” said Dr Nouryani.

Dr Khudaim said that patients should register with primary healthcare centres. “Coming to a hospital in emergency in the seventh month is not the solution,” he added.

“When a woman discovers that she is pregnant, it is recommended for her to also simultaneously start planning her delivery,” said Nirman R Shetty, president, corporate affairs at NMC Healthcare.

“This planning includes determining the hospital where the baby can be delivered as well as finding a gynaecologist with whom the pregnant woman is comfortable with and whom she trusts. If this is done, it ensures that the pregnant woman is booked at a hospital where deliveries are done and the gynaecologist at the delivering hospital can review the patient’s medical condition and prepare for the delivery, including planning for any complications that ante-natal scans may reveal.”

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