COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on healthcare services across the globe. The healthcare professionals are facing difficulties of shortage in medical supplies, extra working hours, a large number of cases, lack of equipment (like ventilators), and so on. In such a time of need, the only crucial thing is to follow appropriate precautionary measures to offer maximum support.
Objective: Determining doctor’s perception of precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic
A total of 117doctors participated in the survey- Chest physician (21%), General Practitioner (48%), Pediatrician (24%) and Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (7%)
- When the doctors were asked if patients suspected/confirmed with COVID-19 be admitted to a hospital, 60% of them said no.
- When asked about the precautions taken at the clinic, 32% of doctors responded that patients should wear a mask or cover their mouth & 26% of doctors responded that the clinic should be disinfected several times a day.
- When asked if hydroxychloroquine should be used for prophylaxis against COVID-19, half of the doctors responded yes and half of them said no.
- When the doctors were asked about the strategies for managing staff shortage, 43% of them said that they would cancel non-essential appointments/procedures so that they can keep working with limited staff.
- When asked if the doctors preferred telemedicine to increase the outreach of healthcare services, 87% of them said yes.
The majority of the doctors recommended that only those patients with severe symptoms that cannot be managed at home be hospitalized. The ICMR had published evidence-based guidelines for the prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine. However, some international health authorities have warned against using hydroxychloroquine due to the adverse effects and insufficient evidence of its efficacy. This might be the reason why half of the doctors in our survey do not recommend the prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine.
To limit unnecessary contact with the patients, the government and healthcare authorities can provide resources for setting up telemedicine. Correct guidelines for maintaining patient records should be followed. This enables accurate contact-tracing in case anyone visiting the clinic is later found to have COVID-19. Doctors should consider implementing engineering controls such as physical partitions or barriers that will further reduce their exposure to patients. Until a cure or vaccine is discovered, taking precautions to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is the only viable option. This will prevent the hampering of our healthcare systems if many doctors are infected simultaneously.
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