A common grouse among patients in the COVID-19 ward at the Emergency and Trauma Care Centre on Victoria Hospital campus is that senior doctors and specialists are not attending to them, leaving the responsibility to resident doctors.

Most of the senior faculty and specialists, they allege, are passing on instructions from the outside to resident doctors. “I was admitted for 11 days in the COVID-19 ward. No senior doctor came to the ward. I have only seen two doctors, one of whom collected my swab samples on the seventh day, besides two nurses and the cleaning staff,” said a 48-year-old patient from Mulbagal in Kolar district, who was discharged last Friday.

Stating that he was waiting eagerly for his sample to test negative, the patient said, “Our progress is monitored only through phone calls by senior doctors to their juniors. They collected my blood samples on the first day of admission for testing my vital parameters. But whenever I asked them about my reports, they said they would ask the senior doctors.”

Three categories

Many other patients who spoke to The Hindu over phone from the ward said only anaesthesia faculty visited the ‘red’ category patients in the ICU. Patients are classified into red, yellow, and green categories. While red covers those in the ICU, yellow covers patients with comorbidities being treated in the ward, and green indicates the asymptomatic ones.

“This ward is in a hospital affiliated to Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), which has excellent expertise and senior faculty. But none of them have got involved with patients in the COVID-19 ward. Anaesthesia faculty are the only senior doctors who so much as step into the ward,” said a 38-year-old patient. He added that at least occasional visits by doctors would reassure the patients.

In fact, the Health and Medical Education departments have received several complaints that specialists and other senior faculty were not attending to COVID-19 patients in wards and were passing on instructions to resident doctors. Following this, Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education, recently issued a circular asking medical superintendents and district surgeons to prepare a roster and ensure that specialists attend to COVID-19 patients in wards.

Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said that he was aware of the complaints. “We have already issued a circular. If they are not following it, we will initiate action against them,” he said.

Although BMCRI does not fall under his jurisdiction, two days ago Health Minister B. Sriramulu called up a senior faculty member at the institute, who is part of the core team, and sought an explanation with regard to the complaints.

Report from BMCRI

BMCRI Dean and Director C.R. Jayanthi denied the allegations and said senior doctors regularly went on rounds of the ward. “It is not true that senior doctors do not get involved in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. They regularly monitor the patients’ progress and instruct the resident doctors on what needs to be done. We have submitted a detailed report to the government,” she said.

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