Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Krait Attack - 2

Prameela went home after quite an uneventful period of admission in the hospital. However, Prameela was an eye-opener about why many snake bite victims are already dead when they reach the hospital.


Prameela reached last Sunday late evening. She was just alive. Gasping for breath with secretions flowing out of her mouth and nostrils, she would have been a goner if the family was late by another fifteen minutes in bringing her.

Prameela was bitten about 15 hours back, sometime before dawn. Her family members had woken up hearing her scream and caught the intruder which had bit her – a 2 feet long krait. Beliefs demanded that the krait be taken to a safe place and let free. The family was more concerned about setting off the snake free than about Prameela who was bitten.

They took the snake quite far away, deep into the jungle to release it which took them about 4 hours. By the time they came back, Prameela was not feeling well with feeling of something in her throat and abdominal pain. It was about 6 hours after the bite that Prameela was taken to a hospital.

At the hospital in the district headquarters, Prameela was administered intravenous fluids and some injections, the total cost of which was only 600 INR, which means she was not given Anti-Snake Venom. As Prameela’s condition appeared to worsen, someone suggested that she be brought to us.

We had to intubate her immediately. And she was in the ventilator for a good 48 hours. Thankfully, her recovery was quite fast.

Now, the worst part of any snake bite is what hit us next - The cost of treatment.

Prameela ended up with the requisite 20 vials of ASV. It was obvious that the total costs were much beyond the reach of the family. With tight budgets this year, we also were finding it difficult to write off bills. The family came to us begging for charity. We could not afford to give more than a 5% charity on the bill which was raised, which already gave her a charity of around 20%.

This is one of saddest parts of any snake bite. It is the rural poor who are the most affected. Since the last 3 years, the cost of Anti Snake Venom has risen by about 200%.

I feel that there are 2 solutions to the problem.

The first solution would be make ASVs freely available in all government facilities as well as designated facilities like ours which have a reputation for snake bite management. Closely linked to this would be efforts to decrease cost of making the ASVs.

Till that happens, patients such as Prameela would be dragged down the poverty hole by snake bites . . . 

Lessons learnt - 

1. TRADITIONAL BELIEFS CONTINUE TO BE A HINDRANCE TO TREATMENT OF SNAKE BITE VICTIMS. 
2. THE ONSET OF RESPIRATORY PARALYSIS CAN BE DELAYED BY AS LONG AS 15 HOURS IN KRAIT BITES. 
3. COST OF CARE IS A MAJOR ISSUE WITH SNAKE BITE CARE. 
4. KNOWLEDGE OF CARE PROTOCOLS FOR SNAKE BITE VICTIMS ARE VERY POOR AMONG DOCTORS

The patient I mentioned in the previous post, Alokita gave consent to be photographed and her story to be shared in my blog . . .

Alokita with her parents

2 comments:

  1. Jeevan, No word is enough to thank you. ASV is free for all in all Govt. hospitals of WB. Unfortunately most of our doctor friends are reluctant to use.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jeevan, No word is enough to thank you. ASV is free for all in all Govt. hospitals of WB. Unfortunately most of our doctor friends are reluctant to use.

    ReplyDelete