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COVID-19 test compulsory for chemo, dialysis patients, attendants: Kidwai

This means thousands of dialysis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients will now have their throat swabs taken and tested for coronavirus.

Published: 21st April 2020 06:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2020 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

Kidwai Institute of Oncology plans to test patients, attendants I PANDARINATH B

Express News Service

BENGALURU: After several hospitals in Mumbai shut after their healthcare workers were found to be COVID-19 positive, the Kidwai Institute of Oncology here plans to make it mandatory for all its patients and their attendants to undergo COVID-19 test before they go for treatment. However, medical experts say though it’s a good idea, it’s not really feasible and also will cause a lot of hardship to patients.

“Anyone who walks into Kidwai for treatment irrespective of being symptomatic or not, will have to undergo this test. It is important for the safety of patients as well as healthcare professionals in the hospital. Unless they have a negative result they will not be allowed to get their treatment,” said Dr C Ramachandra, Director of Kidwai.

This means thousands of dialysis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients will now have their throat swabs taken and tested for coronavirus. According to him, the patients and their attendants will undergo Reverse Transcription- Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests and as the institute has an in-house lab for testing, he claims the results can come in three hours. “Till that time we will take the patients’ contact details with address and they can either wait at the hospital or can come back after three hours,” he explained. Dr Ramachandra said the state government has given its nod. If the test kits are provided, then this new mandate will be put in place by Friday, he said.

Once the test results come and if they turn positive, the patients will be kept in the isolation ward and BBMP will be informed for contact tracing. However, there was a mixed reaction from senior doctors from larger dialysis centres and public health experts. “We do dialysis for a minimum of about 300 patients per day and they will need to come 10 to 13 times. So every time they come for dialysis, can they be asked to undergo COVID test?” asked a senior doctor from a private hospital who also does dialysis. Public health expert Dr Giridhara Babu said, “This is shirking away from their responsibilities.

From anecdotal reports, it is clear the hospitals are not providing essential PPE to the healthcare workers. In the absence of essential PPE, the doctors will be forced to demand the COVID test from patients.” “Post-surgical societies’ guidelines suggest deferring elective surgeries. But emergencies and oncological surgeries cannot and should not be deferred.

Testing in such cases will enable decision making rational. If someone is asymptomatic with COVID, post operation, the patient may not do well. I support risk stratification and testing based on this,” said Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, pulmonologist, Manipal Hospitals. Anant Bhan, researcher and bio ethics expert said, “Health professionals have a duty to care towards their patients, but it’s also important for them to protect themselves, their colleagues and patients by reducing the chances of COVID-19 transmission.”


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