BENGALURU: In a span of just one month, the state has seen 599 COVID-19 patients succumbing at home due to delay in reaching hospitals and shortage of beds, among other factors. This includes 120 deaths between April 13 and April 30 and a sudden spike of 479 deaths between May 1 and May 13, with the highest being reported on May 12, with 88 fatalities, as per the state Health Department data.
Experts and those on the ground who are aiding patients in finding hospital beds, point to the inability to find a hospital bed in time. The number of people needing oxygen support and hospitalisation has increased in direct proportion to the rising number of positive cases, pointed out Dr Nanda Kumar BS, Associate Professor, Community Medicine, MS Ramaiah Medical College.
"Due to scarcity of beds, patients are not reaching hospitals in time. In addition to this, the fatality in the double mutant cases is high due to more virulence. The time taken for the disease severity to increase is shortening from six or eight days to three or four days, including symptoms of pneumonia, ground glassing of lungs, breathlessness, etc," Dr Nanda Kumar said, adding that early diagnosis and treatment will reduce mortality.
Ameen E Mudassar, a volunteer with Emergency Response Team that works full time to locate beds, oxygen and COVID-19 drugs for people, said they have seen countless cases of people not being able to find beds in time and therefore, succumbing at home.
Ignorance and casual attitude lead to delay in treatment: Doctor
"Some patients were not able to find an ICU bed for 2-3 days. They suffer due to dipping oxygen saturation levels and breathlessness. This causes a lot of trauma to patients and, in some cases, they have suffered a heart attack at home. Earlier, home care services would send doctors to the patient’s house, but that is not available now," Mudassar pointed out.
Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences Vice-Chancellor Dr S Sacchidanand said that not recognising symptoms early, ignorance of patients and their families and casual attitude also result in delayed treatment and mortality at home.
When asked why fatalities at home increased in May, he pointed to the general increase in moderate and severe cases, therefore, leading to more deaths generally. "Earlier, I used to get 5-10 calls a day from families seeking a bed for a patient, but now, that has reduced to 1-2 calls per day, with implementation of the central bed management system. Final-year MBBS students work with the NGO Step One to monitor home isolation patients, provide tele-counselling and pick-up cases, either requiring hospitalisation or refer them to a senior consultant," said Dr Sacchidanand, chairman of the state Covid Subject Expert Committee.