A panel of doctors visiting Covid hospitals across Calcutta has found that many patients who don’t need to stay in hospital are still occupying beds, as a result of which patients with moderate symptoms that can turn critical later are being denied a bed.
The panel has been set up as part of the government’s initiative to reduce the number of Covid deaths. The brief to the doctors is to ensure that Covid patients with moderate symptoms are treated early.
In Bengal, the Covid-19 death toll stands at 1,490. Health department officials said 41 deaths were reported on Wednesday.
The team of doctors has found that many patients at government Covid hospitals are reluctant to go home before completing 14 days from the day they received the positive report, increas-ing the turnaround time for beds.
There are allegations that a section of health-care professionals does not mind the longer stay because these patients don’t need serious medical attention.
In the past three to four days, the team visited several government hospitals and got a large number of patients who did not have any symptoms discharged.
“At MR Bangur Hospital, a team of doctors on the panel got as many as 75 patients discharged in one day. At the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, another team got around 70 patients discharged in a day,” a health department official said.
The doctors found that the patients had no symptoms. “They needed to be under observation but that could be ensured at home, too. They asked the hospital authorities to discharge the patients who were ready to go home. Those who did not want to go home were sent to safe homes set up by the government,” the official said.
The move resulted in many patients who needed oxygen support and were waiting for a bed to get admitted.
The panel comprises doctors from SSKM Hospital and RG Kar and Calcutta Medical colleges. The state health department’s Covid treatment protocol suggests that a patient without any symptoms for three days should be discharged.
“Some patients are refusing to go home because of the fear of social stigma. Some healthcare professionals, too, want such patients to stay because they need minimal care. The presence of such patients also keeps the Covid death count of that hospital under check,” the official said.
But public health experts said this was only hampering the fight against Covid. “Many patients with a reduced level of oxygen can be prevented from going into a critical stage if they are given oxygen support and other treatment at an early stage,” said critical care specialist Ajoy Krishna Sarkar.
“Asymptomatic patients can stay at satellite facilities,” said public health expert Abhijit Chowdhury.