HYDERABAD: Timely teleconsultation by a doctor recently saved the life of a 62-year-old man, who was showing all the symptoms of COVID-19, in Sangareddy. This is being seen as one of the first success stories of home treatment and recovery of a patient suspected to have contracted the novel Coronavirus.
The patient had developed a fever and was given the usual medication for it, but his condition did not improve. On day 10 of his illness, when he became breathless, Dr Vishnu Vardhan, a Civil Assistant Surgeon at the District Hospital, Sangareddy, snatched him from the jaws of death.
"When my colleague had informed me that his father was breathless, I advised him to get a chest X-ray and high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) done. Both these scans showed opaqueness in the lungs. This was indicative of COVID-19 but the RT-PCR test result had returned negative. As the family is in Narayankhed, we decided to begin the treatment with steroids," Dr Vardhan said.
Under close medical supervision of his son, who is also a doctor, the 62-year-old was administered steroid Methylprednisolone twice a day through IV. Within 48 hours the fever subsided and the patient’s breathing normalised.
"His oxygen saturation level and other vitals also improved but his heartbeat showed some irregularities, indicating that the novel Coronavirus may have affected his heart. We could not be certain of this as the RT-PCR test result was negative. But we need to bear in mind that the margin of error of this test is 20 per cent," Dr Vardhan said.
At this stage, the doctor and his colleague decided to shift the patient to a hospital where doctors continued with the same treatment for two days and then discharged him.
Timely use of anti-viral drugs can save lives: Doctors
"Timely use of anti-viral drugs such as Remdesivir and steroids such as Methylprednisolone can reduce the burden on patients. These drugs can prevent them from slipping into the ventilator stage, wherein the survival rate is just 15 per cent. The survival rate at the oxygen stage is much higher, 70 per cent," said Dr Kiran Madala, the HoD of Critical Care Medicine at the GMC Nizamabad.
"If a patient is breathless and has medical reports - CT scans and X-rays - to support the condition, we prescribe oral steroids so that their condition improves immediately. We have done it for 15 patients so that their condition is manageable while they reach the hospital," Dr Vardhan added.