November 24, 2008

Recognition of emergency medicine is the need of the hour

In India, most patients requiring emergency care die because emergency medicine is still not a recognised speciality with the Medical Council of India (MCI),” Dr Krishan Kumar, Director, Emergency Medical Services at Nassau University Medical Centre in New York, US, said on Saturday.
Dr Kumar, who is on a visit to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), is a member of the board of the American Academy for Emergency Medicine in India (AAEMI). AAEMI had held talks with MCI on the issue last year, but to no avail, he said.

According to Dr Kumar, approximately 50 per cent of the patients who require immediate medical attention and treatment in India, especially road accident victims, die as they are not given timely emergency care.

“In the US, we have a very high success rate as far as the number of such patients is concerned. I would say that up to 99 per cent of these patients are saved by the team of emergency medicine. But I do not understand why MCI has not recognised it till now,” he said.

He added: “Emergency Medicine is recognised as a speciality mostly by developed countries and India stands somewhere at the bottom of the list as far as Emergency Medicine is concerned. But hopefully it should be recognised in India soon.”

Talking about its importance, he further said: “It is the need of the hour as most of the patients die because they cannot get emergency treatment. As they say, if a patient survives the golden hour i.e. the first 60 minutes of an emergency or acute illness, his chances of dying are very less.”

Dr Kumar said that while hospitals in south India are aggressively focusing on emergency medicine, those in north India are still lagging behind. “In fact, some centres in the south have already started providing training in Emergency Medicine though it is not an officially recognised speciality in the country,” he said.

When asked how the existing emergency facilities could be improved, he said that India required a unified emergency call number in the first place as nothing can be done about the roads or traffic jams.

“We can possibly have a unified emergency call number, preferably in three digits, such as 911 in the USA. How many of us can remember those 10 digit numbers when we are panic-stricken?” he said.

Dr Kumar gave a lecture on Emergency Medicine and held a workshop on emergency care at DMCH on Saturday. Those present on the occasion included Dr Sunil Puri, head of medicine and medical superintendent, DMCH, Dr Daljit Singh, principal of DMCH and Dr Sanjeev Uppal, professor of plastic surgery, DMCH.

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