CHENNAI: An apparent shortage of kits used to check if persons admitted to emergency care units have HIV, Hepatitis B or C virus, has put students attached to various government medical college hospitals in the city at risk.
Speaking to City Express, a student of the Madras Medical College and Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital said that the kits, which cost less than `100, had not been made available at the 24-hour emergency laboratory of the hospital.
If there is suspicion that a particular patient admitted to the emergency care unit has HIV, it will take at least a day to conduct the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test, which costs a substantial amount of money. “We follow universal precautions including wearing medical gloves, goggles and masks, etc., to avoid contact with patients’ body fluids while treating them at the emergency ward. However, we get exposed to needle pricks often. Though we take anti-viral drugs after that, there are risks of infection,” said the student.
For conducting tests like ELISA, there are several procedures to be followed, which are not always practical while dealing with emergencies, pointed out another student from the Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital.
“For conducting blood test on a patient in emergency care, we have to fill in the requisition form at the blood bank or biochemistry lab at the hospital. We also have to get the patient’s consent. This has to be filled and submitted at the lab. Where is the time for all this during an emergency? The primary concern during an emergency is to provide treatment to the patient, rather than running behind paper work. It is the medical professionals who stand at risk because of this,” said the student.
The medico, who had been assisting in the treatment of patients for nearly two years, alleged that not one test kit could be found in the emergency laboratory so far.
The medicos added that for years their seniors had been treating their patients, risking their own lives.
“What is worse is the lack of awareness among doctors. At least now, the management should do something about this,” they said.
However, a senior official of the Health Department claimed that there were enough kits available at all medical college hospitals. Every patient admitted to the casualty ward is provided first aid and then transferred to the zero delay ward. From there, the patient is shifted either to Intensive Medical Care Unit (IMCU) or operation theatre depending on the condition. “But before all this, all necessary tests are conducted. There are enough testing kits available at all medical college hospitals,” the official added.