No access to lab reports, complain doctors

‘Test results of COVID-19 patients communicated orally or sent on WhatsApp’

Published - June 02, 2020 11:33 pm IST - CHENNAI

Government doctors treating patients in COVID-19 wards have objected to the the lack of access to laboratory reports of patients. Many of them say that the result is communicated orally or sent as messages on mobile phones by heads of department or deans, and a copy of the result is not available in the wards.

Inquiries with a number of doctors on COVID-19 duty in various government medical college hospitals have revealed that a majority of them do not have access to COVID-19 laboratory reports of patients in wards.

A doctor on COVID-19 duty said that both assistant professors and postgraduates posted in the wards do not get a copy of the test result. “We have no direct access to the report. It is available only with the dean or the professor/head of department. We do not get a printed copy of the laboratory report. This is not the case with other investigations such as blood sugar levels or X-rays, in which we get copies of the result,” said another doctor, on condition of anonymity.

Several doctors said that COVID-19 laboratory reports were not provided in a transparent manner in a number of government hospitals. “Reports are only shared through WhatsApp and are not given in hand with any authentic seal. If we get a printed copy of the laboratory report, we can attach them with case sheets. We only receive a message about whether a patient is positive or negative, and at times, only if we ask what their status is,” another doctor said.

An assistant professor added that the COVID-19 swab test was the only test under the control of senior hospital authorities. “Other test reports are given and documented in case sheets of patients.”

At the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, COVID-19 reports are dispatched as soft copies to e-mail IDs of department staff or as messages on WhatsApp groups. These are accessed by the chief-in-charge who declares the result and it is then entered on a case sheet, another doctor said.

Not just for patients, this is also the case for doctors who get tested. “When we go for COVID-19 testing, they tell us that we will get a phone call if we test positive or negative. We are not shown the lab report,” a senior doctor from RGGGH said.

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