Published: 12th June 2019
36 hours of blunt force trauma: What one day in the life of a resident doctor is actually like
India has less that one doctor per 100 patient at present even though it promises to achieve the WHO standards by 2024
Waking up to the piercing shriek of an alarm is the worst feeling in the world — that too when you know you have a 36-hour day ahead of you. I brushed off the lingering sleep and fatigue to freshen up and get ready.
I'm not looking forward to what comes next. Then again, operating on a few hours of sleep every night will do that to you.
I enter the OPD at 8 sharp.
If I had to put a label on it, that label would be 'Mayhem'.
It's going to be mayhem till 1 pm. The OPD has us attend to around 800 patients a day. We are not just outnumbered — the ratios are ridiculous. The first half was not so bad. Sailed over smoothly. But my day is not over after 800 patients.
It's only just begun.
Post-OPD it's time for the emergency ward. I didn't have much time for a bite so I grabbed a packet of biscuits from the canteen and rushed to the emergency ward. All those things that doctors tell you about eating right don't apply to residents, interns and med students.
As I pushed my way through I hear people shouting at the top of their voices. It isn't very surprising but the tone did not seem right. I reached the epicentre. My colleagues, Sujata* and Deepak* are trying to pacify a group of people. I am about to find out what the commotion is about when a man pushes Sujata and she stumbles back a few steps. There are more than 50 people there and just the three of us.
It scares the living hell out of me. I, who never chafe at the sight of blood, am scared shitless when I see the crowd.
I take my phone out and call Ankit*.
Patients' families always believe that doctors are at fault when their near and dear can't be revived. Their only vent? Go after the men in white - the number of interns milling around any hospital in surprised more of them don't get into some kind of altercation that they have nothing to do with.
It's already 4 pm by the time the situation calms down but I am scared. This is the first time any of us have been harassed by people. At one point I begin to think there is no way out of this.
The seniors had told us stories but being in a situation like that is horrifying. But there is no time to waste now. We have to finish checking the rest of the patients. As I reach the last patient - a 70-year-old man - his son comes up to me and asks in a heated tone why his father's urine bag is leaking and why there are no doctors. His second question I could relate to — we ask the same thing. It's not like people are bunking duty but there are not enough posts. I broke out of my daze as the man seems really angry now. I explain that this was a common problem but I will change the bag immediately. He cooled down a bit.
I couldn't stand on my feet any more. I have not sat down even once since I left my room at 8 am — it's been 10 hours. I had to lie down. I took to one of the stretchers outside the emergency, found a spot, set an alarm for exactly 45 mins and closed my eyes. I had an hour's break.
The alarm did not startle me this time. How comfortably do you think I could sleep on that stretcher? 16 more hours to go. I climbed off my temporary bed and walked back to the emergency.
Welcome to every day.
*Names changed. The incidents have been compiled from true events that residents have faced.