Baghdad's hospitals struggle to cope with war wounded

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 12 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:779
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. London

    As the BMJ went to press on Tuesday, reports from Baghdad's hospitals suggested that they were no longer able to cope with the flow of people wounded in the war. An American armoured foray into the city centre on 6 April brought the heaviest casualties to date in Baghdad, and the Yarmouk Hospital—one of five in the city able to treat war wounded—was receiving 100 new casualties an hour, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    Despite the power cut that has affected much of the city since 3 April, the hospitals had electric power from backup generators. They were often plunged into darkness, however, when the generators were shut down to prevent overheating.

    Problems were most severe in the south of the city, the Red Cross said, because a damaged bridge and continued fighting were preventing the wounded from reaching the city centre, where the main hospitals are located.

    Many hospital staff could not reach work, with the result that doctors were performing nurses' duties and even pushing trolleys. Medical supplies were holding up in Baghdad, but in some hospitals the …

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