Dr Ajeet Jain of Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital | Simrin Sirur | ThePrint
Dr Ajeet Jain of Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital | Simrin Sirur | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Dr Ajeet Jain of Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) doesn’t mean to cause a shock, but he doesn’t like to be in complete PPE gear when he deals with Covid-19 patients.

While his colleagues serve the Covid ward and ICU in full personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes a coverall suit, surgical cap, face shield, N95 mask, shoe cover, and gloves, he dons just three items for protection: A snug N95 mask, covered with a triple-layer surgical mask, a face shield, and a surgical cap. 

“This doesn’t mean I’m careless. I’ve made a calculated decision, and I’m not advocating or encouraging others to follow my lead. But so far, it has served me well,” said Dr Jain, nodal officer and head cardiologist at Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital. 

Healthcare staff in PPE will go down in history as one of the defining images of the world’s battle against Covid-19. Through the pandemic, the medical community has constantly reiterated the need for adequate numbers of quality PPE, which is seen as an indispensable accessory for those on the frontlines of tackling the pandemic.

However, Jain gave up the full PPE suit out of choice. The decision was driven by three factors — experiencing spells of dizziness after wearing full PPE for long hours, the sheer expense of a complete kit, and the science behind how Covid spreads. 

“I took the decision after much deliberation and discussion with my colleagues. This is my understanding,” he said. “What we know is that the virus spreads through aerosol spray that enters the body through the nose and mouth. If those two parts of the body are properly sealed, and you’re careful not to contact your nose and mouth with a part that has been exposed, how will the virus get in?”

Shedding some of the PPE items, he added, has made him more vigilant about maintaining precautions. “I immediately disinfect any part of my body that has been touched, I never touch my face, and I go to bathe as soon as I’m done with my round.”

Jain hasn’t worn a full PPE kit since 16 June. In the two and a half months since, Jain said he has treated at least 1,000 patients. He has been tested for coronavirus five times — twice through RT-PCR, twice through rapid antigen, and once for antibodies — and all his results have come back negative.


Also Read: Patients say Delhi pvt hospitals charging huge PPE fees, hospitals say it’s within norms


The science of PPE

Union Health Ministry guidelines describe PPE as gear designed to safeguard the health of workers by minimising the exposure to a biological agent. 

An observational study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) this June stated that “appropriate personal protective equipment is effective in preventing infection in healthcare professionals who work in highly exposed environments”.

Conducted by researchers from China and the UK, the study involved 420 participants — dressed in protective suits, masks, gloves, goggles, face shields, and gowns — tending to Covid-19 patients. Among other things, the participants performed aerosol-generating procedures, which have been linked to a potential risk of airborne Covid-19 transmission.

According to the study, none of the participants reported symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive during its 6-8-week duration. 

“However, this study does not address the question of what the minimal level of personal protective equipment should be to effectively prevent infection among healthcare professionals,” the authors of the study said.

They noted that most healthcare staff affected were “infected in the early phase of the outbreak and the main reason was probably a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment”.

Speaking to ThePrint, RGSSH director Dr B.L. Sherwal said Dr Jain is taking all precautions.

“Dr Jain wants to see for himself if he can treat Covid patients without wearing the coverall, gown, and gloves, but while strictly maintaining all other precautions,” he said.

“It was difficult to admit him without full PPE in the beginning, but, at the same time, he showed courage in doing that. We think it’s important to observe him so we can learn more about the role of PPE,” he added.

“I want to stress that he’s taking every precaution necessary. We need to know the exact route of aerosol-related infection. If that can be blocked, that itself is the best PPE.”

Sherwal emphasised that they don’t exercise any laxity in ensuring the staff stay safe.

“Only 50-odd members of our 800 or so staff have contracted the virus. This is among the lowest in the city hospitals,” Sherwal said. “Most of these happened in the beginning. After we introduced a workshop on donning and doffing (putting on PPE and taking it off), the infections went down considerably.”


Also Read: Life inside the PPE: No food, no water and no loo break for at least 6-8 hours


The disinfection routine

As soon as he’s done taking a round of a Covid ward or ICU, Dr Jain rushes to the nearest shower house, not stopping for anything. He scrubs his whole body for seven-and-a-half minutes. The first round is for three-and-a-half minutes, after which he rinses, then repeats the cycle another two times for two minutes each.

“This is the same method you use for your hands and arms before going in for cardiac surgery,” Dr Jain said. “I’ve adapted it for my Covid work, so I scrub my whole body, including face and head, this way.”

Without full PPE, Jain said, he is freer on patient rounds. There is also the fact that patients, fearful during their stay in isolation, can “see and recognise my face and feel a sense of comfort”. 

“It really helps that they can see me. They feel more comfortable and less like they’ve been outcast. I’ve been doing surgeries for 28 years now. I’m used to going hours keeping my hands perfectly still and away from my body, without touching my face,” he said. 

Jain added that he’s open to criticism from the medical fraternity for his choices, but hopes this provokes discussion too. One rule, however, will never change, he said. 

“There’s no escape from staying vigilant if you want to stay safe from the virus,” he added. “PPE can’t be a substitute for basic precautions.”


Also Read: Rajasthan doctor tweets picture of IAS officer wearing full PPE, medical staff in just masks


 

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10 Comments Share Your Views

10 COMMENTS

  1. I think Dr Jain is being very scientific n his knowledge is complete as regards d transmission.I dont find anything wrong in it.
    He is protecting d route of entry…Researchers r like him

  2. I wonder how this article will help in the present scenario. Responsible journalism should ensure that these type of news should be published in the right vein and time. The article also confuses a non medical reader. Me, as a doctor, can perhaps read between the lines, but the way this article is written misleads the reader.

  3. He is the chief who goes on rounds.Residents stay among the patients for 6 to 8 hours.Duration of exposure is also a thing to be mentioned.

    • True. But the article said he was uncomfortable wearing PPE for long hours.

      Or maybe he has a good immune system. Or maybe he is just plain lucky so far.

  4. The Covid-19 is increasing in India because majority of the people are non-Muslims and they don’t know the Special Prayers ( Dua ) to save them from widespread epidemic. The advantage for the Muslims is that they follow their scriptures to worship Only One God unlike others. The Muslims follow the last prophet Muhammad ( Peace be upon him ) who came to guide the entire humanity in all areas of life. As a result majorirty of the Muslims and the Muslims countries are less affected in the world and that is why IPL 2020 shifted to a Muslim country UAE, as people are more safe there as they read Special Prayer ( Dua ) to protect from all viruses which is as follows translated into English from Arabic.
    “ In the name of Allah, through whose name nothing in the heavens and the earth can cause any harm, as Allah alone is the All Hearing and All Knowing.”
    It is time for all the non-Muslims to stick to their religious scriptures to worship only One God and follow the last prophet as mentioned in scriptures of all major religions for success in this world and hereafter. In this age if info and knowledge explosion all the hidden truth now revealed and many are accepting the truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=PRw25KZG0vE&feature=emb_logo

  5. This is the kind of mindset that is required of our doctors.
    It’s not about taking a risk but knowing very well what one is doing and venturing into the unknown with scientific understanding. I sincerely wish him the best.

    If Dr Jain is uninfected even after 3 months, can ICMR or any leading medical institute think of a scientific study of such practices with a small number of volunteer doctors and publish the results in a peer reviewed journal. Also for those unfortunate doctors who died because they caught Covid infection while treating patients, does ICMR have any data if they got infected because they did not have PPE or they got infected despite using PPE?

  6. Can the author please clarify the point she/he is trying to make in this article? Wearing or not wearing a full ppe kit is that doctors personal choice and considering that he is taking all due precautions, and that he is so far tested negative, and the fact that he is doing his job properly, is the author trying to basically trying to create an issue out of nothing by maligning the doctor? This article shows the abysmally low standards of journalism that plagues or country.

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