‘Forgotten patients’ burden on govt expenses & medical staff

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Patients rejected by family and friends

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 19: The story of the “forgotten patients” on public hospital beds in the country is not new. Its chapters are being renewed day after day, exhausting the medical and nursing cadres. The budget allocated to the Ministry of Health incurs a lot of expenses for the treatment and care of these patients, reports Al-Qabas daily. The Ministry of Health has been studying and preparing the requirements of its new development projects, which it intends to launch in the next stage, and allocating the necessary manpower to operate them. However, it is facing obstacles in terms of the recurring file related to these forgotten patients who stay for years in its facilities, and drain the efforts and energies of its medical and nursing staff on a daily basis. This happens amid rejection of their families or friends to receive them. According to doctors and nurses, the number of such patients has increased to 270, costing the budget about KD 1.8 million annually for their care.

Under humanitarian, legal, and sometimes social reasons, the ministry employees have been continuing their efforts to serve these patients, even though hospitals suffer from a lack of beds, which are used by these patients in more than one hospital. According to health sources, about 270 patients of different nationalities, including Kuwaitis, Gulf nationals and Asians, were abandoned by their families and embassies, and they remained in various hospitals in the country for many years, despite being given permission to leave. Among these are children left behind by their families. The spending on some of these cases is done with “self-help” provided by the medical and nursing staff who opt to purchase equipment and supplies for a number of patients. They also volunteer to pay the travel expenses and the cost of airline tickets for the expatriate patients, after finding solutions to deal with them becomes impossible.

The sources expressed regret that some embassies did not respond to the calls of the hospitals’ public relations and social service departments to visit their citizens who have been in hospitals for years, and discuss ways to get them out of the hospitals and sent to their families inside or outside the country. This confuses the employees and raises the level of pressure on them on a daily basis. They highlighted some criminal practices in terms of some of the patient’s relatives providing the hospital with false data about the patient so that the one who admitted them in the ward is not contacted and the patient receives the necessary health care.

There are cases of elderly patients who are registered in the Public Authority for Disabled Affairs but whose children receive their allowances, while these patients stay for long periods in the hospital wings without being visited by any of their family members! A number of doctors and nurses, who preferred not to mention their names, explained that the total number of “forgotten patients” in public hospitals, which currently is approximately 251, keep fluctuating due to the death of some of them or the success of the nursing staff in convincing their families to take them home or sponsor the transfer of others to their country. The latest statistics showed that there were ten such cases in Farwaniya Hospital including two Gulf nationals, 35 in Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital, 38 in Amiri Hospital, and 46 in Adan Hospital.

The old building of Jahra Hospital has 122 cases of forgotten patients, including 99 elderly (42 Kuwaitis and 57 non- Kuwaitis), and 23 children (11 Kuwaitis and 12 non-Kuwaitis). There are about 19 patients in other hospitals. Regarding the reasons that cause people to be stripped of human feelings and abandon their relative in the hospital, the hospital staff said some of them are related to the lack of specific medical devices such as respirators at home, and the unwillingness to buy these devices or allocate a male or female nurse to follow up the medical condition of the patient.

They revealed that the cost for the healthcare of a patient who has recovered but is still in hospital amounts to KD 458 per year, and the cost of caring for some cases inside medical wards is KD 200 per day. The doctors and nurses narrated a sad story regarding the condition of these forgotten patients. They revealed about the death of an Asian patient who had been admitted in the cardiology unit of the Amiri Hospital on January 6, and was later transferred to a ward, but was never once visited by either his family members or friends. Throughout his stay in the ward, the nursing staff had been working to secure his needs, and had exerted efforts to allocate a nurse to accompany him when he returned to his home country. However, he passed away before the process could start.

The doctors highlighted the great role played by charity organizations in addressing part of the repercussions of the forgotten patients file. Some of them were keen to communicate with the public relations and social service departments in hospitals to discuss ways to pay the cost of health care provided for some expatriate cases as well as paying for their flight tickets and securing their access to their homes. Health sources revealed that some medical and nursing staff collect money from donors and from zakat and alms money for buying equipment and tickets and for paying for the stay of some expatriates in hospitals, adding that this may also include sending a nurse to accompany the patient, given their difficulty in traveling on the plane alone due to their poor health.

The sources stressed the need for the concerned authorities, especially the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Public Authority for Disabled Affairs and the relevant embassies to find a solution to the phenomenon of prolonged hospitalization. They denied the existence of a justification for a patient’s stay in hospitals for years under the pretext of lack of medical progress in the stages of his treatment.

This news has been read 10967 times!

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