Certain authorities in Punjab have finally rolled up their sleeves. The Punjab Healthcare Commission sealed more than 40 operation theatres of various hospitals, after tracing an alarming rate of infections there. These include hospitals such as Fatima Memorial, Services Hospital and Ittefaq Hospital due to unsatisfactory sterilization arrangements. The crackdown seems to be impartial, as theatres in some private hospitals have also been shut.

The theatres have been closed for not complying with the Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS) prescribed by the commission. In violation of these, the hospitals could not produce laboratory reports indicating absence of germs or bacteria in their operation theatres. The hospitals cannot perform surgical procedures at these theatres and have been warned that the violation might lead to fine and other punishments provided under the rules and regulations.

This is a good start. There has always been a great deal of talk regarding cleanliness and hygiene of hospitals, one that is always brushed away or hushed up. If patients are paying hefty amount of money to go to hospitals, especially the private ones, do they not deserve to be treated with the best possible care?

The problem of the contamination is more a problem of administration and infrastructure. Infection on the operating table is entirely avoidable. Even with doctors and nurses doing their best, if the environment is not sterilized, the patient is at risk. However, one must also be wary of the fact operation theatres are small in number, while patients are innumerable. With queues outside many of them, this embargo will disturb many patients who might need immediate care. Arrangements need to be improved with haste so that it does not grow into a public health crisis.