B’luru: Ayush docs in Covid ICUs raise hackles of death audit panel

BENGALURU: A few private hospitals in the city had Ayush doctors working in their Covid-19 intensive care units (ICUs), according to revelations made during the proceedings of a BBMP Covid death audit committee meet on July 23. The committee discussed 44 Covid deaths in particular that occurred in various government and private hospitals between June 16 and July 20.
Sources privy to the proceedings said one of the questions posed to the hospitals was if they had employed Ayush doctors in ICUs. No hospital admitted to it. But it was evident that Ayush doctors were indeed at work as in some of the cases, the patient’s worsening condition was not picked up at the earliest and no satisfactory answers were provided by some hospitals when asked to explain why patients’ health deteriorated.
What saves a patient is the right drug, right dose, given at the right time,” one of the sources said.
When untrained, non-allopathic doctors end up treating Covid patients in an allopathy hospital, they can’t pick up the worsening signs as they don’t have the skills to diagnose the condition and can’t take clinical decisions, said a doctor. “If a patient develops sepsis, or electrolyte imbalance or arrhythmia, or heart attack, a decision has to be taken to intubate a patient and a non-allopathic doctor is not trained for this,” a source said.
Sources said it’s no longer a secret that Ayush doctors are employed in private allopathic hospitals. “It’s more so during the pandemic. Nobody visits Covid ICUs to check,” said one of them.
At the death audit committee meeting, sources said, the members had no access case sheets of patients and had to rely completely on hospitals’ statements.
The team of doctors scrutinising the cause of deaths asked BBMP to look into the matter as Covid treatment protocol was violated in some private hospitals. “One of the major lapses we found was the lack of an internal death audit in hospitals. In none of these cases an autopsy has been done… But as we audit only some of the deaths, there is no access to a patient’s files and the committee has to go by what the hospitals say,” the source said.
“In some cases, when doctors asked what could be the cause and source of secondary infections seen in patients, the hospitals said the culture report has not been collected yet. The absence of culture reports is a grey area as some hospitals have not even made an effort to get a test done.”
Randeep D, special commissioner of health, BBMP, said, “Ayush doctors working in Covid ICUs is largely not an issue in medical colleges. It can be in private hospitals, especially small nursing homes. We do agree with the audit committee observations that MBBS doctors and specialists should be in charge of ICUs. We will write to such hospitals not to engage non-allopathic doctors for critical care beds.”
Dr HM Prasanna, president of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association, said Ayush doctors were indeed hired by some hospitals during the peak of the first wave as some doctors refused to work in Covid ICUs which are a high viral load area. “However, by the time the second wave arrived, many hospitals were ready with their staff to handle the ICUs.”

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