Doctors as vulnerable as everyone else to COVID-19

By Ashish Bhosale  Published on  26 July 2020 5:20 AM GMT
Doctors as vulnerable as everyone else to COVID-19

Hyderabad: There has been a flood of stories regarding persons affected with COVID-19 being denied treatment due to the shortage of medical facilities and infrastructure. The healthcare system everywhere has taken a hit due to the pandemic and has exposed flaws that were previously swept under the rug. But amidst all these stories, what is missing are the narratives of the medical professionals such as doctors. NewsMeter brings these unheard stories to the fore.

“The truth that cannot be avoided is that there are simply more patients and fewer beds,” said Dr. Shankar Kanthe, a surgeon at a private hospital. “Suppose if one patient takes seven to eight days to recover. That bed will be occupied for 10 days which can’t be given to another patient. Also if there are 10 beds and only five ventilators then the hospital can't accommodate more than five patients. We need to be careful of such things as, if something serious happens, then the doctors and the patients will be blamed. No hospital wants to deny treatment to people as that is how they earn money but they can provide services if they don't have the infrastructure and facilities such as doctors, staff, beds, equipment, etc,” he said.

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“But now, patients sometimes get aggressive and quarrel with the doctors about the unavailability of beds. Hence hospitals avoid taking in patients sometimes. Patients need to check about the availability of beds with at least four hospitals before making a decision to get admitted because beds at many hospitals are full. But, this not the fault of the doctors. People think that doctors are responsible for not admitting the patients which is not true. If a patient is admitted a doctor will provide treatment as that is his or her duty to do so. The administrative work is not the responsibility of the doctor,” Dr. Shankar Kanthe added.

Dr. P. Raghu Ram, Padma Shri awardee and the President of The Association of Surgeons of India, when contacted, stressed the importance of a family doctor. “The concept of a family doctor should be revived. People should not rush to private hospitals for every small ailment and especially more so during this pandemic when the hospitals are working beyond their capacity. This makes sure minor ailments are taken care of without the intervention of a private hospital,” he said.

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“Even doctors expose themselves to the risk of getting affected,” said Dr. Vidya, who works at a government hospital. “Sometimes patients hide the fact that they have the symptoms of COVID-19. One time a patient and his pregnant wife got admitted and he did not disclose that he was having the symptoms of COVID-19. She was admitted into the pregnancy ward where six other pregnant women were also there. It was only later that we found that the husband was COVID-19 positive when he noticed the symptoms. He had not only infected his wife and child but also put the other patients and me at risk. We all had to go into quarantine which could have been avoided,” she said.

“It is a systemic failure that doctors are being blamed and attacked nowadays. High fees at private hospitals which limits access to the poor is also a problem. Improving infrastructure and facilities at the government hospitals is the only way to make the situation better,” said Dr. Vijendra Goud, former President of Junior Doctors Association.

Many medical experts urge people to empathise that even doctors are vulnerable to COVID-19 just like everyone else, and they are working under tough conditions especially without a vaccine insight which might guarantee full recovery for a COVID-19 positive individual and also safeguard more from getting infected.

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