Doctors, HCW Responsible for Their Own Safety: Health Min to SC

Doctors, HCW Responsible for Their Own Safety: Health Min to SC

Published05 Jun 2020, 09:51 AM IST
2 min read

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) told the Supreme Court on that is the healthcare worker's responsibility to protect themselves from COVID-19.

This statement was made in response to a plea by doctors and other frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers, which questioned the Centre’s new guidelines that ended the 14-day mandatory quarantine for HCWs.

Here’s a quick reminder of the story so far:

As FIT reported earlier, the MoHFW issued a circular on 15 May, which said that the regular quarantine of healthcare workers working in COVID-19 duty is not required.

Predictably, this order was not well received by healthcare workers who are putting their lives at risk on the frontlines of this virus. Notably, the Residents Doctors Association (RDA) Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML) requested some clarity in a tweet on 18 May. The reiterated the same in another tweet on 21 May which detailed a press release.

The Health Ministry said that the petititoner of the case has not given any “empirical evidence” that suggested HCWs were testing COVID positive despite wearing PPEs, reported Bar and Bench. The ministry suggested that therefore any conclusions about the case were merely “hypothetical.”

Their reply maintains that if the HCWs protect themselves responsibility they are no more at risk than the common man. They suggest that if the HCW wears their PPE then they are protected against “potential exposure and subsequent infection,” and bear no risk to their families, children or communities. 

They also maintain that they are following international risk assessment rules in line with the US’ Center for Disease Control.

In the order, the Ministry states that a nodal officer must be appointed to check infection among the healthcare workers. Doctors are allowed to conduct their own COVID-19 tests and take their own nasal swabs, the nurses need a doctor’s signature to approve the tests.

Healthcare workers will have to report their risk exposure to the officer and only if they decide it was high-risk can the healthcare worker be tested. If not, they must continue to work without being tested.

It must be noted that HCWs who have high-risk exposure do have to follow the 14-day quarantine.

The order writes about self-quarantine or home quarantine - or being taken to a quarantine facility if a healthcare worker shows mild symptoms. However, it does not offer guidelines on COVID-19 testing.

The order and their recent t reply puts emphasis on conserving the workforce, especially in light of the rise in COVID cases.

While some doctors did not find the move warranted as it did not guarantee safety especially with rising concerns in some hospitals over the quality of PPEs and other issues, some doctors were in favour as it ensured more staff would be on duty.

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(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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