Private sector and patient safety

Updated - April 30, 2020 03:31 am IST

Published - April 29, 2020 11:58 pm IST

Dr. S. Asokan, CEO, GEM Hospital.

Dr. S. Asokan, CEO, GEM Hospital.

Everyone has a family member who has some medical issues — someone waiting to check his blood sugar levels, some waiting for their pregnancy ultrasound scan and others waiting for a surgery — the list is never ending.

The big question is, “Is it safe to go to a hospital for consultation/procedure during these times?”

Thankfully, our country has taken stringent social distancing measures like a 6-week lockdown to flatten the curve. The peaking of cases which we see in smaller European countries and some States of US is in stark contrast to what we have suffered as a large nation. Kerala has already flattened its curve and is showing great progress with preventive and containment measures.

The private healthcare sector has also evolved its strategies in the past few weeks.

A pandemic this large is a new learning experience for everyone alive at this moment in the world. It’s important for the private sector in India, being a major healthcare deliverer, to learn, evolve and adapt newer strategies to cope up with the unprecedented disaster.

The learning process and adaptation of knowledge in implementation has kept India significantly proactive. The patient safety measures and personal protective equipments (PPEs) against the virus have been a result of the knowledge shared across the continents after analysing the rapidly evolving scientific data.

When the world is struggling with the availability of proper PPEs for the healthcare workforce, thanks to our innovative and indigenous textile infrastructure in the cities of Coimbatore and Tiruppur, we could get sufficient international standard PPEs, including Hazmat Suits, N95 protective masks etc., in a short time. The synergy between the government and the private healthcare sector has also been evident — from diagnostics to treatment areas. These form the foundation behind the crusade against COVID-19.

As more doctors are falling ill across the world and even in our country, the question of patient safety takes no back foot in any standard along with the safety of the healthcare workforce. As a patient, the fear is understandable and inevitable, even in emergency situations, leave alone the planned visits.

However, with the increasing availability of the rapid screening for COVID-19, and laboratories performing the PCR testing (some with in-house collection facilities), the hospitals can literally function as individual units with Safe Zones, free from COVID-19, and designated COVID-19 isolation zones.

The entire structure of hospital operations has to be segregated, minimising contact among patients, with the highest safety standards with adequate PPEs for patient and healthcare teams alike.

The safety measures implemented across our own chain of hospitals is a standing proof of this evolution of our understanding and implementation of patient safety measures.

Based on the data collated and analysed by more than 100 doctors, we have formulated ‘GEM Patient Safety Initiatives — GPSI’, which are implemented across our facilities in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Identification, isolation, providing information, educating the patients are the key functions of GPSI. Making all facilities adopt a unidirectional flow, segregating the visitors with physical distancing, sanitising the facilities, equipments and personnel to maintain utmost safety for both the public and healthcare workers is the idea behind this initiative. We are happy to share our practices with others so that the public are benefited more.

With the unavailability of a vaccine or proven antiviral therapeutic option at present, the fight is still preventive but the other medical issues plaguing the human race can’t wait or we may equally lose lives over cancers, heart issues, strokes and other critical issues. These preventive safety measures will guide and help us, the medical professionals to continue the services in these tough times safely.

Most medical conditions fall in the bracket of semi-emergences (Eg: ulcer diseases, hernias, gallstone disease, obesity etc.,) which may not require immediate attention, however with the suffering prolonged and without medical attention may be left undetected of something bigger going within. The flattening the curve may take its time, but its time to move on, slowly, steadily and more importantly safely and definitely. Most tertiary care centres have evolved strategies to ensure the same.

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