BENGALURU: Doctors have observed a disturbing trend: Covid-positive patients who require dialysis are skipping sessions as the cost of a Covid dialysis unit is much higher than normal dialysis unit in private hospitals.
People with kidney-related ailments and other comorbidities, like diabetes and hypertension, are at high risk of contracting Covid-19, making things worse. Doctors say this is a matter of concern now.
Niki Thomas (name changed), 47, who had been undergoing dialysis for some time, recently tested Covid-positive. She was admitted to a private hospital for treatment, but when she realised that the cost of dialysis was exorbitant, she started missing her sessions. She told hospital authorities she couldn't afford it: dialysis for a non-Covid patient varies between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000, but costs over Rs 10,000 for a Covid patient.
There are many more patients like Niki, who are avoiding dialysis, leading to complications. Dr Suri Raju V, managing director and chief urologist, Regal Hospital, admitted that the cost of dialysis for Covid patients is high, and many are skipping sessions.
He said manpower and equipment costs go up, and the effort of doing one Covid dialysis is equal to five or six regular dialysis.
"More manpower is required, and the technicians have to be paid higher fees. Maintenance is higher too. A dialyser is used for five or six dialysis for normal patients, but the one used for a Covid patient cannot be used again. With many patients avoiding treatment, we capped the cost at Rs 10,000 for Covid patients," he said.
Dr GK Prakash, consultant nephrologist, Manipal Hospitals, Malleswaram, said, "Dialysis patients are at higher risk as they are immuno-compromised, and such patients tend to harbour the virus for a longer time, if affected. Our dialysis unit costs Rs 7,000-8,000 for Covid outpatients, and between Rs 11,000 and Rs 15,000 for Covid in-patients. Patients who skip regular sessions come in with fluid overload and need intensive sessions. Rates go up in a private hospital mainly because of isolation, staffing and usage of PPE kits by the entire team."
According to Dr Jagadish Hiremath, CEO, Ace Suhas Hospital, "We have observed that cost is a deterrent, leading to patients missing dialysis and needing intensive care later. We strongly advise patients on dialysis to take extra precautions to avoid contracting coronavirus, as prevention is the best bet now. Family members of patients should also take precautions as there have been instances of family spread from asymptomatic patients."