Over 500 striking doctors have left hundreds of patients unattended since Wednesday morning
Though at least seven patients have died at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) during their strike since Tuesday night, junior doctors have now threatened to extend it indefinitely if their demands are not met, officials said on Wednesday.
Protesting junior doctors have been abstaining from work for 24 hours, seeking action against police officials who cane-charged them a few days back and left some of them injured.
The PMCH is the largest medical and healthcare centre in Bihar that attracts patients mainly from rural areas of the state.
Junior doctors of the Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) have also joined the protest to express solidarity with their PMCH colleagues. They have reportedly stayed away from work since Wednesday morning.
"Seven critical patients died due to lack of treatment following the strike by PMCH junior doctors on Wednesday morning, which has badly hit emergency and Out Patient Department (OPD) services," an official of the hospital said.
However, PMCH superintendent Lakhinder Prasad said: "We have no record of death due to the ongoing strike by junior doctors but I am told that some deaths have occurred."
Mr Prasad said that in view of the strike, senior doctors have been deployed in the emergency ward to take care of the patients. "Senior doctors are treating the patients in emergency."
Another PMCH official, Dr Abhijeet Kumar, said that nearly 50 additional senior doctors have been asked to join duty in the emergency ward.
Bihar Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav, on being asked by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to intervene, held an emergency meeting with officials of his department and told them to ease the situation at the earliest.
Over 500 striking doctors have left hundreds of patients unattended since early Wednesday morning, despite a large number of them being referral cases by local doctors from across the state requiring urgent attention.
"There is a panic-like situation among the kin of patients, particularly of those whose wards are lying in serious condition in the emergency ward and the ones operated upon in different wards, as junior doctors are not attending on them," a PMCH official said.
Junior doctors are adamant they would not resume work unless action is taken against the police officials who lathicharged them during a counselling session for the post-graduate admission last Monday.
Unruly behaviour during the counselling session had prompted the action, the police said.
The striking doctors have also demanded withdrawal of FIRs filed against innocent medical students.
Meanwhile, hundreds of patients, mostly poor, who arrived at the hospital from across the state, were worried as no medical facilities were being provided to them.
"We are the real victims of the strike, because there is no doctor to attend on our patients," said Mahesh Kushwaha of Vaishali district, who came to Patna two days ago for his wife's treatment.
In the absence of treatment, most patients have been forced to shift to private nursing homes.
Satender Yadav, a parent worried over his son's health, said: "There is no doctor to attend on the patients."
"Those who can't afford treatment outside have been left in the lurch," an official said.
"Medical services brokers have become active and are taking advantage of the situation," a patient's relative at the PMCH said. "They are luring the families of critical patients to shift to private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes."