NEW DELHI: General practitioners suffered the most when it came to Covid fatalities among Indian medical professionals while paediatricians were most affected among specialists, according to the first formal analysis of the pandemic’s impact on the community.
By September 10, a total of 382 Covid related deaths and 2,174 infections were reported amongst doctors with a Case Fatality Rate of 16.7% — ten times than of the general population (1.7%). Among the practising doctors, excluding resident doctors and house surgeons, the CFR was 36.4%, which is almost 22 times more than in the general population.
“It means that every one in three practising doctors in the country who is contracting the infection is eventually dying and it’s mostly those above 60 who are the most susceptible,” said Dr Krishan Mohan Kapoor, lead author of the paper. Doctors above 60 years of age should be convinced not to expose themselves to patients till the pandemic stabilises and the younger lot should take charge, he added.
While majorly hit was general practitioners 225(58.9%), paediatricians 26(6.8%), medical specialists 24(6.3%), general surgeons 22(5.8%), obstetricians and gynecologists 16(4.2%), and anaesthesiologists 14(3.7%) were particularly susceptible among the specialists. “It can be explained by that fact that GPs, paediatricians, medical specialists and general surgeons see a varied section of patients whereas super-specialists have a very specific clientele,” Kapoor pointed out.
“In India, healthcare workers, especially in general practice, are at higher risk of getting COVID-19 due to the relatively large volume of patients attended and frequently congested working conditions at workplaces.” Physicians working in the airway such as dentists, ENT surgeons, and anaesthesiologists are also at high risk, and this group comprised 6.5% of the physician deaths in India, as per the analysis.
Three southern states top the list
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra accounted for most of the deaths even though the overall caseload has been highest in Maharashtra ever since the pandemic hit India.