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What Happens To Critical Patients If They Test Corona Positive?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

My cousin-sister aged about 41, an Anganwadi worker, came to Bhubaneswar AIIMS on September 19, 2020, for treatment of her kidney which was seriously infected and even full of pus as per Scans by Aska/Berhampur doctors. The doctors opined that she needs urgent surgery as the kidney problem became critical for her survival.

AIIMS Bhubaneswar said that they would undertake a COVID-19 test before any examination of her disease. So, she gave a swab sample, and she was advised to report on September 22, 2020, if her COVID report came negative. They take around 72 hours for the test results.

She stayed at a lodge near AIIMS. But she suffered from tremendous pain on Saturday (19th September) night which continued till Sunday (20th September) afternoon. Thus, I asked her to be admitted to the emergency department of Apollo Bhubaneswar. Point to be noted that I was in isolation because of a possible false negative which I have explained in my previous article.

The Circus Of Hospitals

From Monday (21st September) onward all tests were carried out at Apollo, including the COVID test. Doctors of Apollo said that the kidney is fully damaged and needs to be removed through surgery. Thus at 10 AM on 23rd September, she was scheduled for her surgery. An undertaking was taken from her husband that if in the process, she becomes COVID positive, then the cost would be different. As per their advice, five people were ready to provide blood (through donation and exchange). However, the surgery was delayed citing many reasons.

At around 5 PM, I met the doctor at Apollo, asking as to why the surgery is delayed. The doctor said that they are waiting for the COVID test result, which hasn’t come. By that time, around Rs 1,30,000 was taken by the hospital for various tests and other incidental charges. The doctor said that the testing machine has some issues; thus, the report is not coming yet. I couldn’t understand why so many tests are done for surgery if at all, they are to wait for the COVID test result.

Representational Image.

By that time, I recalled that she had given samples at AIIMS on 19th September. Thus, one of my colleagues rushed to AIIMS to get the result, and the result was she tested positive. I was with the doctor and showed him the result that I received via WhatsApp. The doctor’s behaviour immediately changed and said that the Apollo result would also be positive. He intimated this to the Apollo lab at 5.30 PM.

The Apollo authorities said that they couldn’t do anything as she’s positive. It’s now the responsibility of BMC (Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation). Soon, her room became an isolation room, and no nurse attended even after the repeated emergency bell. Nurses said that they are authorised to give just paracetamol. Interestingly my sister was asymptomatic.

Now two things bewildered me. First, they had taken an undertaking that if she’s positive, the cost will be different. What happened to that undertaking?

Second, the doctor asked the lab whether the report is ready, the lab authority denied. AIIMS report was given to the doctor at 5.30 PM, which he communicated to the laboratory. I find the Apollo COVID test report as positive, which is released at 3.20 PM. The point is if by 5’o clock the report wasn’t ready how come the report is timed at 3.20 PM?

Anyway, we started contacting the BMC authorities for shifting her to COVID hospital. BMC people were angry as to why she was admitted to a private hospital. I tried to convince them that no hospital private or government was ready to admit a patient without a COVID test. Also, the patient required to be tested negative else no hospital will admit. Apollo, for whatever reason at least admitted her and gave some anti-biotic and pain killers.

Where Would A Corona Positive Chronic Disease Patient Go?

After a lot of follow up, BMC finally shifted her on 24th night to KIMS hospital. I thought at least KIMS will provide necessary treatment and if required urgent surgery too. But KIMS people said that they would offer necessary treatment for COVID only and nothing else. After the 10-day mandatory hospitalisation, she will be discharged for further treatment at whatever hospital we can.

We contacted AIIMS. They said that they can admit after 25 days of Corona infection and that too she must be tested negative. We contacted AMRI, Bhubaneswar, who said that they could treat her provided either she tested negative by KIMS or by their laboratory. KIMS denied for any testing and said that they would discharge. The point was, where would she go?

We requested KIMS Medical Superintendent to keep her for another couple of days so that we can arrange other hospitals or doctors. He was a kind gentleman and agreed to use his influence; else the protocol is different. I searched everywhere knowing her critical condition, but none agreed to admit her for treatment until she’s tested negative. I just asked what will happen when a very critical patient comes and tests positive? The answer was simple. No one can help the patient because no-one will treat if someone becomes positive. Most deaths occur because of the non-treatment of the disease of Corona positive patients.

I was feeling threatened as my sister continuously complained of her acute pains because no one was treating her real problem. KIMS also didn’t allow other private agencies to take samples from her for a COVID re-test.

health officials in ppe
Representational image.

On 4th October, KIMS discharged my sister, on the ground that she’s asymptomatic and needs to be stayed at home isolation and no reference regarding the actual kidney problem nor refer it to any other hospital.

The same day she gave her swab to a private lab (authorised) so that she can be tested negative, making her admit to some other hospitals.

Adding salt to injury, the test report came on 5th October as positive. This was a painful situation. But as I was a victim of false-positive, I decided to take a risk for another test at AMRI hospital.

Earlier the doctor at AMRI hospital told us that there’s no need for kidney removal surgery; instead, they will put some pipes to take out the pus and provide antibiotics for healing.

This was different from Apollo’s opinion of the kidney-removal surgery. Also, I was a bit apprehensive about Apollo because of their delay in the COVID test result but carried a lot of tests. Thus, I asked my sister to give her sample to AMRI again on 5th October without citing the private lab report. If she tests positive, then we will ask the doctor to provide medicines for two weeks, although according to many doctors she won’t survive if the pus is not taken out.

Should Critical Patients Be Left Helpless If They Test Corona Positive?

However, a miracle happened. On 6th October 2020, the AMRI lab reported that she is tested negative. Immediately we took her to AMRI and got her admitted. The doctor said that there’s too much delay and there’s a 50-50 chance of her survival, and the treatment is going to cost very heavy. The point is, what’s the alternative? She’s very poor. I can help her to some extent. But then, can I see her dying?

The point is simple, had she got timely treatment, the cost would have been less, and her survival chance would have been more! But let’s hope for the best.

If you have some medical urgency and you tested positive, then no one is going to treat you unless you are influential, a minister or some VIP. Perhaps most of the corona related deaths are happening because no one is ready to treat one’s real disease if they test positive. This is an unfortunate but bitter truth.

The counter logic is that many doctors are infected and also died because of treating such positive patients. Yes, that might be a reason. But then should the medically critical patients be left helpless if they test positive?

I think the government should look into it and the media should raise this issue seriously. I don’t know what will happen to my sister, but let there be a way out to treat critical patients even if they test positive.

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  1. Biranchi Narayan Acharya

    The good news is that My sister recovered and today she is being released thanks to AMRI. But then the point remains whether all others are lucky like her to survive?

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