Why general OPDs should not be opened during lockdown period?

CM Punjab, Mr Amarinder Singh needs all the appreciation for his commendable reaction to first corona patient in the state. Punjab was the first state to have curfew to prevent spread. Nearly 90,000 NRIs came to our state and if this curfew was not done then till now more than 30% Punjabis would have been affected, around 75, 00000 (75 lakhs) and nearly 3-4 lakhs would have died.

It was because of timely lockdown and stopping of all non-essential services that it could be successful.

Govt has taken other essential steps to curb the spread like separate quarantine areas are marked in case of emergency. Separate hospital is also marked for covid patients because if covid patient is admitted in hospital which is managing other sick patients, then there would be catastrophe like what happened in Italy. Not all hospitals or nursing homes need to admit COVID patient, it would be like wild fire.

Here as a doctor I would like to say, that general OPDs are not emergency service.

It’s too premature to start general OPDs just now, let’s wait till lockdown period. Majority of patients have respiratory symptoms and we know that they may be asymptomatic careers. They may cough when doctors examine and may have virus, so doctor is exposed, this is carried on body including hairs and shoes and unless you are covered from head to toe while examining patients you are at risk of putting your family and collegues and rest of patients at risk, no matter how far they are sitting in the OPD, as there are 100s of patients in OPDs, space is always less. We are managing patients in the emergency and ward, ICUs are full. If we start general OPDs, all stable patients would start coming and one patient of COVID will spread infection to all others who will then take this infections home as patients come from different cities and situation in India would be worse than Italy.

Emergencies are dealt within hospitals, but to start patients at clinics or general OPDs is risky. We are not abandoning patients, they are calling us all the time, doctors are giving their contact number, we also know majority of illnesses are managed by giving advice and do tell them the danger signs and to report to hospital for any emergency, we are doing free service as can be contacted on phone.

We do not want sick patients who need indoor admission to suffer.

One infected patient and all those non-covid patient will suffer the same fate.

Italy did the same mistake, it is said putting one corona patient with other patients in hospital is like a putting a burning match stuck in stack of dry hay.

We can wait for few days otherwise we won’t have beds for sick patients in the hospital.

Patience is a virtue at this stage.

Admitted patients are seen regularly and well managed. Doctors are doing rounds in all main hospitals and none of the patient is ignored. We are not running away from our duty but protecting patients who are in the hospital and need admission.

I request CM to reconsider this, we can have telemedine for OPD patients. patients need not come to the hospital, phone no of doctors can be circulated to them. It would be catastrophic to start encouraging general OPD patients to come as there will be no place for sick patients in the hospital then.

Starting general OPD s too much risk. Like happed in Panchkula hosp, one doctor gets infected whole hospital had to be shut down, moreover one patient gets covid, blames on the doctor and the hospital.

Guidelines have to be taken along evidence and social circumstances and decisions should not be based on some individual who was not seen in general OPD and wants it to open, without knowing the facts.

CM has been misinformed, no emergency is affected in any private hospital, even AIIMS and PGI have closed general OPDs. If we open general OPD, believe me we will have worse situation than Italy and those who are complaining against us will be attacking us for giving them infections.

Humble submission to the CM that doctors are not hiding, they are saving themselves for the bad days. Any single exposure to corono positive patient means quarantine for 14 days for not only the doctor but also the whole clinic staff. Also contact tracing of every patient who was there in that OPD on that day would be impossible. We won’t have space to burn the dead ones if we take these things lightly and just coz some stable patient was not seen in general OPD for minor complaint, we open all and put lives of lakhs of people at risk too.

During bush fire, most important is to prevent its spread by wetting the areas around, and not just using sophisticated equipment to douse fire, developed countries did that mistake, treating patients without limiting its spread and now the result is in front of us. Its due to honorable CM and a leader like our honorable PM that we are becoming example to other countries how to contain this highly contagious infections.

People complain, at this time their life is more important than their petty complaints.

We as doctors are the forefront and at the cost of our health will save all with our best efforts. Doctor is not just a word but is a passion. But also believe that prevention is better than cure. All those people who are complaining of closing general OPDs are actually being saved from the disease for which they may not be able to find any ventilator anywhere.

I know, in India public, bureaucrats and media are against doctors. But believe me, every one of them would wish to have a doctor in their family.

I wish there is a doctor in every family, then they would realize how many years of hard work, sacrifices and passion goes in becoming one.

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