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Chhattisgarh probe finds doctors & Covid warriors negligent, account for 9% of cases

A state health department probe has found that infections in doctors rose as they didn’t take precautions while wearing and removing PPE kits, among other factors.

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Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government has found gross negligence on the part of frontline medical personnel handling Covid-19, who accounted for 9 per cent of the total active infections in the state, ThePrint has learnt.

This unusual situation has arisen because doctors in the state did not take necessary precautions while wearing and removing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, and didn’t adhere to social distancing and quarantine norms issued by the central and state governments, a contact tracing probe has revealed.

The state health department listed out these causes in a detailed letter to the district magistrates on 24 June, stating that the negligence increased the infection risk among high- and low-risks group of other doctors and staff. ThePrint has accessed the letter.

Of the state’s 623 active cases as of 1 July, at least 55 are frontline medical personnel. The state has so far recorded 2,940 Covid cases and 14 deaths. Of these around 169 cases are of health workers, including 54 doctors.

Dr Akhilesh Tripathi, who was data in-charge of Chhattisgarh’s Control and Command Centre for Covid-19 until his retirement on 30 June, told ThePrint, “There is a prescribed procedure for donning and doffing of PPE kits. It needs to be done very cautiously. It has to be worn during the entire duration of being on-duty. But in many Covid-19 hospitals of the state, doctors and medical staff did not follow the procedure prescribed for use of the kit.”

He described how some doctors wore and removed these kits several times, while still being on-duty, due to summer heat or other reasons. According to the laid out procedure, PPE kits are to be worn and removed only once.

Moreover, the personnel did this in areas that were not marked for the procedure and as a result not only infected themselves but also their colleagues.

The letter directed the local administrators to ensure that all norms are followed and social distancing measures are strictly followed.

However, government doctors ThePrint spoke to denied negligence on purpose and urged the government to look at the quality and quantity of PPE kits being provided.


Also read: No need for govt doctor prescription for Covid test, contact-tracing must: Modi govt to states


What the probe found

The Chhattisgarh government carried out its probe in view of the rapidly increasing cases of Covid infection among doctors.

In the investigation that revealed negligence, it found that medical norms were flouted to such an extent that medical personnel, including doctors, continued mixing up with other members of their team even after coming in direct contact with the Covid patients.

The investigation also found disregard for social distancing norms, with doctors and their subordinates interacting in the same room on and off duty, and sharing meals in the dining room, among others.

It also found that after 14 days of duty, some of the doctors went to their hostels instead of staying in quarantine for the required number of days.

Heightened risk of infection

The 24 June letter stated that due to the gross negligence of these infected doctors, high- and low-risk groups of other doctors and necessary staff had to be earmarked. At the time, their number was at 26.

“This number of infected doctors and medical staff is up to 24 June only — the date when the order was issued by the state government,” said a senior health department official who didn’t wish to be named.

“Since then this number has increased and the number of infected doctors and other medical staff is expected to rise further in coming days. All these medical personnel in high- and low-risk groups have been exposed to the infected personnel in some way or other. They will soon be tested,” said the official.

Noting the irony in doctors and medical personnel spreading the disease due to their own negligence, Dr Tripathi said, “Doctors and other medical staff will have to remain extremely vigilant in this battle against Covid-19. Even while taking a swab sample, extreme care has to be maintained, because on several occasions the person whose sample is being taken sneezes. If that person is infected, then someone else might also get infected.”

He added that though it is not easy to comply with all the regulations on all occasions, there is no other option.


Also read: Next 3 months will see a flood of new data on Covid vaccines and treatments


Ensure strict compliance of guidelines

In the letter issued to the district magistrates, the Chhattisgarh government said the administrators of all Covid-19 hospitals should ensure availability of separate living arrangements for all the doctors and other medical personnel during their 14-day on-duty cycle.

Upon completion of the cycle, these personnel should be classified in high- and low-risk categories and must stay in quarantine as required.

Doctors and other on-duty medical staff are also not to be allowed to meet new people and other doctors, the guidelines state.

The district magistrates have also been directed to ensure that these doctors and medical teams strictly follow social distancing norms by not sharing meals, among other measures.

‘Quantity and quality of PPE kits’

A higher official from the Junior Doctors’ Association, Ambedkar Hospital in Raipur said he hasn’t come across any negligence but if the government is accusing the doctors of it, then it is wrong.

“This is possible, but it is also a fact that no doctor or medical personnel will knowingly do anything as is being said,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

He said the government should also evaluate the facilities being extended to the doctors. “The quantity and quality of PPE kits should also be part of the probe,” he said.

“The doctors treating in Covid-19 hospitals need to stay amidst the Corona positive patients all the time. The condition in which we doctors are being forced to work, always carries the risk of getting infected. The number of infected doctors is rising all across the country. Instead of controlling the doctors through district magistrates, the government should facilitate them,” added the official.


Also read: Spitting, no masks, vegetables dragged through urinal — inside a Navi Mumbai Covid hotspot


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Poor facilities in hospital. First state government has to improve facilities. Negligence was from administration, not from medical professionals .

  2. Thanks for review. I don’t agreed with headline. Is any district magistrate meet any medical team to review there issues as per guidelines. How forced to do sampling in worst condition of summer. Is thermal scanning in railway station realy solve the problem ? What’s meaning of deboard them with showing social distance ,if migrants already in close contact within train for many hours. Is any administration checked how to serve food ,what’s mental status , how they will remain isolated for 14 days in single room. What’s about quawarentine centre for migrants ,is there following any single norms.

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