Delhi COVID-19: LN Hospital director orders discharge of patients before test results come in     

On Sunday, several patients were released from the Medical and Surgery Blocks, but most of them had come in only by April 11

Delhi COVID-19: LN Hospital director orders discharge of patients before test results come in      
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Ashlin Mathew

In a mid-morning order on Sunday, the Lok Nayak Hospital medical director JC Passey instructed that samples of all Category 1 and Category 2 patients had to be taken by afternoon and they had to discharged even before their last sample test results would come in. The order stated that the decision was taken after Passey met the state health minister Satyendra Jain.

In the order, Passey calls Category 1 and 2 patients as ‘dischargeable’. COVID-19 patients are categorised based on the severity of their symptoms. Category 1 are the asymptomatic patients and Category 2 are those patients who show mild symptoms, but that is not co-related to whether they will turn negative in the third swab test. As a result of this order, there were 83 patients discharged on Sunday.

According to the discharge policy that is supposed to be followed for all positive and suspected COVID-19 cases, the person should be monitored for 14 days from their last exposure. The person shall be discharged only after there is chest radiographic clearance and two respiratory samples test negative within a period of 24 hours. The guidelines state that even if a patient tests negative in their first swab test, they have to be monitored for 14 days from the date of their last exposure.

Delhi COVID-19: LN Hospital director orders discharge of patients before test results come in      

On Sunday, several patients were released from the Medical and Surgery Blocks, but most of them had come in only by April 11 “What the medical director ordered is dangerous. How can patients be discharged even before their results come in? There are many patients who turn positive only in their third test. Most patients who had come on April 10, 11 were put together in a ward and some of them turned positive. They were then moved to another ward. This means that most people in both the wards have been exposed to COVID-19 patients,” said a doctor, who did not want to be identified.

If the patients are sent out before their results come in, there is a higher probability of them infecting their contacts. “Having been in the hospital, there is a chance that they have been exposed to Coronavirus. In case their last test turns positive and they have already gone home, then their whole family and whoever else they met will have to be admitted to the hospital. And the rest of their contacts will have to be traced. But, the Delhi government has not been successful in tracing contacts like Kerala,” explained a nurse who has been working at LN Hospital for more than eight years.

This decision of the Delhi health ministry and the medical director will put a higher number of Delhi citizens at risk. “The authorities have not thought this through. Standard guidelines must be followed if the virus has to be contained. The medical director ought to have informed the minister of the problems of releasing patients before their third swab test result comes in. They must have done it because the hospital is getting filled up. On Saturday 186 suspected COVID-19 patients came and on Sunday 110 such patients came,” said another nurse on COVID-19 duty. The authorities must think of adding more beds or another hospital for COVID-19 cases as the numbers will grow, pointed out the nurse.

On Sunday, at least 35 people from Tughlakabad Extension area tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier, three people from the area turned positive, out of which, one was an owner of a grocery store. This led to swabs of 94 people from Gali no. 26 and 27 to be taken for tests. Out of these 35 turned positive and this has led to the area being sealed.

Jain said that there were 1,893 positive cases in Delhi including 186 cases from Saturday. He also announced that the state got 42,000 rapid testing kits and they hoped to do 42,000 tests in one week.

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