Recently, Valarmathi (name changed), a 53-year-old woman, was brought to the casualty section of a government hospital after she developed sudden chest pain and fell unconscious at home. The doctors tried to perform CPR but was later declared brought dead. While they did not disclose it when the woman was rushed to the hospital, the family members later revealed that she was COVID positive and was under home quarantine. This exposed the healthcare workers at the casualty to the risk of catching the infection.
With an increase in non-COVID emergency cases after the unlock, the risk of suspected pandemic cases entering general wards has gone up substantially. The hospital staff who attend to casualty cases wear masks but not PPE kits, which increases the risk.
“We cannot deny treatment to anyone because their COVID status is unknown. But if their kin are aware of the infection status, they should reveal it to the staff upon arrival. The PPE kits are useful to keep us same from infection while working in emergency units. However, it is given only in suspected cases, as it is not easy to wear it throughout the duty hours,” said a medico at Government Stanley Medical College Hospital.
The authorities at Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital said that the hospital does not receive any mild or even suspected infection cases in non-COVID areas, as there is a separate causality for such patients. If they have doubts about the patient carrying the infection, the staff are given PPE kits.
“The patients with even suspected symptoms are sent to COVID-19 step down unit. There are adequate number of PPE kits available, and it is available at casualty units to be used in case of any suspected cases. But if patients’ family do not reveal the symptoms history or if their COVID status is hidden, it puts the healthcare workers at risk,” said Dr E Theranirajan, Dean, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.