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PMC wants referral policy for critical COVID-19 patients

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According to PMC Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad, if a private hospital is equipped with facilities like ICU and expert doctors, the entire treatment should be done by the same hospital

The Pune Municipal Corporation has requested the Maharashtra government to chalk out a referral policy for private hospitals as far as critical COVID-19 patients are concerned.

PMC Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said that during a review meeting held recently, he requested Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to take a policy decision at the state level as far as referral of critical COVID-19 patients from private hospital to state-run facilities, like the Sassoon General Hospital in Pune, is concerned.

“The approach of some private hospitals is that they treat the COVID-19 patient for some day and refer the case to Sassoon hours before he or she dies. I requested Ajit Pawar to chalk out a referral policy at the state level,” he said.

He added that if a private hospital is equipped with facilities like ICU and expert doctors, the entire treatment should be done by the same hospital.

Gaikwad said that he has proposed to even penalise such hospitals.

“I have even proposed that if any critical COVID-19 patient is being referred to the Sassoon Hospital before his death, the overall bill of the patient at the hospital should be reduced by 60 per cent. Since they are not treating the patient at the terminal stage or at the time of death, they should be penalised,” he said.

The attitude of some private hospitals of distancing themselves when the patient is critical is not good.

Avinash Bhondwe, the state president of Indian Medical Association (IMA), however, said that there should be a clear cut separation of COVID-19 and non-COVID patients.

“This has come from the government that if a patient comes to a private hospital for some ailment and if the doctor suspects that he or she has some symptoms of COVID-19, he is supposed to inform the administration. Health officials will come and take the swab samples,” he said.

He added that till the time, the results of the test come, the patient will have to be kept in isolation.

“There are guidelines that if the patient’s test comes positive, he or she will be sent to COVID hospital and if the results come negative, the respective hospital will treat the patient,” he said.

He said that there are no such guidelines that private hospitals will treat the patient.

“Moreover, neither the treatment protocol of the government has reached private doctors nor there is any kind of training of private doctors being conducted,” he added.

He said that if any hospital treats a COVID-19 patient, there is a high possibility that the government might ask why the patient was treated there.

“We are supposed to refer the patient for the diagnosis and treatment. On the contrary, there are instances of some doctors receiving notices for not referring to the case,” he said.

Bhondwe suggested that the government should take over some private hospitals.

“If you think that there are some serious patients, you can send them to these private hospitals. If the government wants the patient to be treated at the private hospital, issue the treatment guidelines and protocol to the private doctors,” he said.

Gaikwad said that a meeting with private hospitals over this issue will be held on Monday.

“We will see what their viewpoint is on all these issues. We will also discuss the issue of bills of COVID-19 patients who are being treated at such hospitals,” he said.

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