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Some Hours inside United Hospital OT

Columns 2024-07-04, 1:37am


Prof. M Zahidul Haque

Prof. M Zahidul Haque

ACCIDENT occurs suddenly, unexpectedly and unintentionally! It is always advised to take proper care and precautions to avoid accident—unfortunate and unsolicited happenings which may cause physical and proprietary injury and loss.

Recently I had met with an accident. It occurred day after the last Eid day. I went to our local market place to buy some essentials. Most of the shops were closed; still, I could buy some essentials from some of the few shops opened after the Eid.

Happily I was getting on to a rickshaw to go back to home when suddenly my left leg slipped from the footboard; the nail of my big toe was overturned, badly injured and bleeding. The nail was not fully detached but the base was still attached to the toe. I asked the rickshaw puller to stop at a pharmacy (most of them was closed). However I found one and requested the pharmacist to make a dressing over my wound. The gentleman very generously cleaned my wound with Savlon and put a temporary bandage on my big toe nail. 

When I was back to by home, I was feeling much pain. It was much difficult to find a doctor on Eid holidays but fortunately I found one who again cleaned the nail with Povidone-Iodine antiseptic solution, gave an ATS (Anti Tetanus Serum) injection and asked me to start an Antibiotic (Flucloxacillin) for avoiding infection plus Paracetamol tablet for reducing pain.

So far so good! After taking the medicine, I started feeling better. But there were many other things to do with my damaged big toe nail. The nail was to be removed. Some said-let it fall naturally. But the problem was that, when the nail hit something, it pained rigorously and chances of getting infection was increasing. So, I decided to go to the United Hospital which is regarded as one of the few best hospitals in the country. When I visited the medicine Consultant (we go to when needed), he referred me to an orthopedic surgeon as it was not within his area.

Accordingly, we went to that Orthopedic Surgeon’s chamber in the United Hospital but as ill luck would have it, the Surgeon was busy in the Operation Theater (OT) doing some emergency surgery; when he will be available none could say. As most of the surgeons were yet to return to their normal duties after the Eid, it was unlikely to get any other surgeon on that day.

By that time, we had spent almost 3 hours inside the hospital. Then some suggested us to go to the Emergency Department where my surgery on toe nail could be done by emergency doctors. When approached the Emergency department, they told us that before some doctor attend us, we required to go through some regular procedures, 

Well, I agreed with the hope that the work would be done within a short period of time. A young lady at the Emergency very politely requested us to sit at her desk. She brought out a bunch of papers containing a questionnaire. Okay, sir, now please answer to my questions…..Madam, is there any other short-cut way to get my nail removed, we have already spent 3-4 hours. Appreciating my condition, the lady phoned to OT to ascertain if there was any other surgeon available to do my surgery. Great! A general surgeon was found who would return to his chamber after completion of a procedure within half an hour. The kind lady suggested me to go to OPD1 for an appointment with that Professor of Surgery. She also guided us up to the OPD1. We got appointment at 1pm.

I was getting mentally ready for the surgery. Alas! After 1pm, I was informed by the concerned desk that the Surgery Professor had started operating upon an emergency patient and when it would be ended could not be predicted. I was getting tired and became a little impatient and decided to quit for that day. I took a fresh appointment for the coming Saturday as the following day was Friday and weekly holiday. As we’re leaving the hospital premises, the popular story of a fallen tree due to storm came to my mind—the fallen tree was supposed to be removed urgently as there was a person trapped under the branches of the fallen tree. But the problem arose when seeking permission to cut the tree from the proper authority. Unfortunately no department was ready to shouldering the authority to give permission!

Passing another day doing self-dressing, I went to the United Hospital on my appointment day around 12 noon. After sometime, we were called in by the Surgery Professor. After examining my wound, he said-let’s move to the OT.

He asked the nurse to mark my big toe nail by putting a Band-Aid on my affected nail.

The Surgery Professor was indeed a good person who was sympathetic to me as well. He told me that he would do my surgery as soon as possible in between a gap.

Again the system of following procedures before the surgery; the OT staff gave me OT scrub dresses and requested me to go to the changing room to wear the dresses. Then they put me on an electric movable bed and placed it in a secluded space.

Now the Nurse In charge for my surgery came to me and asked me some questions including whether I had any of the listed disease or disorders plus when I had taken my last meal. She informed me that when ‘Sir’ that is Surgery Professor would be free, they would move my bed to the appropriate OT. I asked the Nurse, if I could sit on a chair as I was not feeling comfortable lying in the bed. No, Sir, you can’t; that’s the procedure!

What could be done? I was patiently waited for my turn. After half an hour, an attendant came and pushed my bed towards the OT. After I entered the OT, they transferred me to the surgical bed and requested me to wait.

So I was in the OT for the first time in my life, of course as a patient. Thanks Heaven, I didn’t have any situation requiring to visit an OT. But I had been inside an OT as a patient’s attendant for a number of times.

As I was waiting on the surgical bed, some thoughts came to my mind. How alone a patient feels in an OT. The surgeon and his team remain busy in doing surgery putting the patient under general anesthesia (administered upon a patient having a major surgery). God forbid, if anything goes wrong, the patient could never know as he is in a medically induced coma. Even in case of patients administered local anesthetics cannot see what happening because a curtain is drawn covering his eyes. Any miss-happening inside the OT during and after the surgery could be fatal!

Meanwhile, the Surgery Professor was yet to come to the OT to do my surgery which would take hardly 15 minutes. The Nurse In-charge informed me that the Surgeon has completed the surgery and was talking with an emergency patient on phone. After that I came to know that “Sir” had gone to his chamber to attend some emergency patients. There was one nurse inside the OT who was preparing the instruments for the surgery. I asked her if she would do my anesthesia, no, she replied “’Sir will do it himself”. Even on my request, she could not go outside of the OT because she was wearing fully sterile OT scrub to get informed when the surgery Professor was coming.

Perhaps about an hour or two, the Surgery Professor arrived and very smoothly performed my surgery. I told him that he could do my surgery without any anesthetic and I could tolerate. He smiled and said—how that could be, that’s an essential part of the procedure.

Meanwhile one thing struck my mind—in fact, the number of patients is too large in our country. Moreover, the patents prefer to visit only those few reputed surgeons/physicians. The country is not producing enough number of expert physicians to take over the responsibilities of the senior and reputed ones. It is however, encouraging to note that the Government is very attentively looking after the affairs of our health discipline and working hard to streamline the situation in both public and private hospitals of the country. The present Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Samanta Lal Sen has been doing splendid job in removing disparities prevailing in our hospitals.

To get back to the beginning, I am to say that the Surgery Professor who had performed my toe nail surgery is quite efficient and skilled. Another thing I must acknowledge here with due appreciation that all the staff members including the staff of the Cafeteria (who arranged launch for me and visitors with me around 3; 30 pm) of the United Hospital were very polite and helpful during my long journey to my minor surgery.

(Prof M Zahidul Haque is a former Professor and Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, and a regular contributor to GREENWATCH, Dhaka)