Covid 19: Private hospitals use ‘other’ clause to test all patients

New Delhi: Private hospitals are now using the “other” clause to test all patients being admitted, including daycare admissions for dialysis, for Covid-19.

Before any procedure, private hospitals are now conducting RT-PCR confirmatory test for Covid-19. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines allow only symptomatic patients to be tested. Asymptomatic patients are tested only in case of direct contact with lab-confirmed cases. As increasingly healthcare workers are contracting the virus, the hospitals are insisting on the test. A day before any routine procedure is conducted, the patient is asked to get the test done at the hospital or an approved diagnostic centre. The patient gets a prescription signed by a doctor, who is also required to fill an ICMR form V9 which specifies the category as per the testing guidelines. It is here that the doctors use the “other” clause.

A4 section on patient category has eight categories – viz. symptomatic international traveller in last 14 days, symptomatic contact of lab confirmed case, symptomatic healthcare worker, hospitalised Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) patient, asymptomatic direct and high risk contact of lab confirmed case, asymptomatic healthcare worker in contact with confirmed case without adequate protection, symptomatic influenza-like illness patient in hospital/ cluster and other. Since the patients for day-long procedures do not follow in any of the seven categories, the doctor’s prescription uses the “other” clause.

Zoya Brar, CEO, CORE Diagnostics, said, “Over the last few days we have seen an increase of hospitals making proactive guidelines around this (mandatory tests). This has led to a surge in patients of this kind.”

Arjun Dang, CEO, Dr Dangs Lab, said, “Guidelines need to be issued to allow testing for pre-op and pre procedure patients. We need to protect our professionals… We have now reached a stage where every patient who has to undergo a procedure needs to undergo a Covid-19 test.”

Max Healthcare spokesperson said, “In order to ensure safety of all workers and patients, Max is conducting Covid tests for all admitted and new patients before their admission at all hospitals. Most patients in dialysis are follow-up patients. Each individual is screened every time they come for their procedures by doctors for symptoms such as fever, breathlessness, cough, etc and any history of contact. Also, there are regular ‘random sample collections’ conducted at these areas.”

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