Now, senior doctors, PGs of anaesthesia institute in Chennai test positive

Routinely posted on COVID-19 duty in several high-risk wards of RGGGH

Updated - June 12, 2020 10:44 am IST

Published - June 11, 2020 11:51 pm IST - CHENNAI

Healthcare professionals at Rajiv Gandhi Govt. General Hospital had high exposure to COVID-19.

Healthcare professionals at Rajiv Gandhi Govt. General Hospital had high exposure to COVID-19.

After the Department of Cardiology, a number of senior doctors and postgraduates at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital's (RGGGH) Institute of Anaesthesiology have tested positive for COVID-19. A majority of the PG doctors were posted in COVID-19 wards of the hospital.

In April, a number of PG doctors and staff nurses at the Department of Cardiology tested positive, following which the building housing the department was closed for disinfection. Recently, 15 doctors, including heads of department, of the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital also tested positive for the virus.

Sources confirmed that two chiefs of the Institute of Anaesthesiology had tested positive for COVID-19, while a total of 14 PGs, including four who were affected earlier, had been infected.

Doctors said that the anaesthetists, whose services ought to be utilised only for airway management in patients, were posted on COVID-19 duty in several wards, resulting in regular exposure to the infection.

“Anaesthesia PGs are posted on regular COVID-19 duty in eight-hour shifts. This includes wards 205 and 206, where symptomatic patients are received and tested. They are posted on the first floor of the Rheumatology Block (a COVID-19 facility), where sick patients are admitted, emergency operation theatre and at the trauma centre,” an official source said.

No rotation

Every day, at least 25 persons, including PGs and assistant professors of the department, are exposed to the infection.

“At least one-third of the workforce should be kept on reserve but many of the department staff are exposed to the infection at the same time. The chiefs have 24-hour COVID-19 duty once a week, and also go on ward rounds,” the source added.

Ideally, doctors from anaesthesia should be on-call duty for intubation.

Doctors recently performed emergency surgeries on two patients - one COVID-19 positive and another of unknown status. “We cannot wait for swab results for patients in need of emergency life-saving procedures. In the post-operative period, the sample of the second patient returned positive for COVID-19. Two of the PGs who were on the team later tested positive for COVID-19. We have one emergency operation theatre (OT) with two cubicles. If a COVID-19 patient undergoes a surgery, we fumigate the OT and utilise it later. We have been demanding a separate theatre for COVID-19 patients with negative pressure cubicles,” said a doctor, on condition of anonymity.

Tests not done

Apart from anaesthesia, doctors, including PGs, of the urology and neurosurgery departments at RGGGH have also tested positive. “Healthcare professionals/workers should be tested for COVID-19 routinely, but this is not being followed. Unnecessary movement of people into the hospital should be prevented. We find patients' relatives in the Severe Acute Respiratory Infection ward,” another doctor said.

Hospital authorities could not be reached for their comment.

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