‘Hosps should not shun psychiatric patients’

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 14 Mei 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Even before the HIV-TB patient with a history of mental illness attacked fellow patients in Bombay Hospital, killing one on Monday, it has been a practice in most city hospitals to not admit patients with serious psychiatric illness. Psychiatrists now fear hospitals will be doubly wary of accepting psychiatric patients needing emergency care for ailments such as diabetes, heart care, etc.

"Most hospitals only offer OPD service for psychiatric patients. They never apply for the licence needed to admit serious psychiatric patients," said psychiatrist Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla, who operates the biggest psychiatry facility in a hospital with 110 beds (the handful of other institutions in Mumbai with this licence operate as nursing homes). He said psychiatric patients manage to get entry into big hospitals only when there is a flare-up of other ailments not relating to their mental state. "More violent crimes are committed by normal people than psychiatric patients," said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. Dr Anjali Chabbria said the Bombay Hospital attacker could have suffered an electrolyte imbalance, triggering violence. "People shouldn't stigmatize those with mental illnesses," she added.

Could Monday's attack have been averted? Dr Matcheswalla, acting head of JJ Hospital's psychiatry department, believes so. "The patient has a history of mental illness, which should have been spotted," he added.

Jaslok Hospital for instance, has a psychological counsellor visiting patients prone to depression. "If the counsellor feels the patient needs help, s/he is referred to the psychiatrist," said hospital CEO Dr Taran Gianchandani. tnn

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