Delhi government orders an audit of seven city hospitals
With an increasing number of healthcare workers testing positive in the national capital, the Delhi government’s health department has requested the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to do an assessment and audit of implementation of guidelines and standard operating procedure (SOPs) followed at seven city hospitals.
Delhi recorded a huge jump in cases on Sunday with 293 people testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total to 2,918. Fifty-four people have died of the disease so far.
The seven hospital where the audit will be done are: All India Institute of medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital, Max hospital in Saket and Indraprastha Apollo hospital.
With several healthcare workers and patients visiting various hospitals in the city testing positive for Covid-19, district authorities raised the issue of hospitals becoming a major source of infection in a meeting with Delhi’s lieutenant governor Anil Baijal held on April 21.
“We haven’t received any such letter yet. We do inspect the quarantine facilities etc sometimes but not hospitals. In case of such complaints, the health ministry constitutes special teams – of which NCDC officers might be a part – for inspections like it is happening in other states,” said Dr Sujeet Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control. Central teams have been sent to states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana among others.
This comes on a day when at least 29 healthcare workers – including12 doctors and 11 nurses -- tested positive for Covid-19 in Baba Saheb Ambedkar hospital in Rohini. Earlier this week, 57 people from the hospital had been quarantined after they came in contact with a suspected Covid-19 patient, a 40-year-old woman from Jahangirpuri, where six of the eight containment zones from North district are located. In another hospital in Jahangirpuri – the non-Covid-19 Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial hospital -- at least 44 healthcare workers had tested positive for the infection.
On Saturday, a security guard and a nurse from the cancer centre of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) tested positive for Covid-19. So far, at least eight healthcare workers – all from the non-Covid-19 areas of the hospital – have tested positive for the infection. Two of the children of nurse also tested positive for the infection.
South Delhi district magistrate BM Mishra told HT, “Nearly 30% of the cases reported in my district are of healthcare workers.”
The chemotherapy area had to be shut for a couple of hours for sanitisation on Saturday after the nurse got her report. Several of the 40 chemotherapy patients who visit the centre in a day have also been advised home quarantine. At least 70 healthcare workers from the hospital are in quarantine.
“There is a team that is contact tracing and will advise home quarantine or testing to colleagues and patients who might have come in contact with the nurse,” said Dr DK Sharma. All the patients from gastroenterology department of the hospital, where another nurse had tested positive, tested negative for the infection.
A staff of Batra hospital tested positive on Sunday. The woman, who lives in Malviya Nagar, was employed in the hospital’s pharmacy. “Four of her family members have been put in institutional quarantine and one low risk contact has been put in home quarantine,” said a senior district official.
In a letter to NCDC director, dated April 24, Delhi government’s health secretary Padmini Singla referred to the above mentioned hospitals and wrote, “It has been reported that doctors, nurses and other support staff (of the above mentioned hospitals)…are getting themselves infected with COVID-19 and becoming a source of infection in the society when they go to their respective homes. It is suspected that proper guidelines and SOPs may not be properly followed in these hospitals.”
The government requested the NCDC to carry out a “quick assessment and audit of implantation of various guidelines, SOPs and other measures in these hospitals” to prevent the spread of the infection to doctors etc.
“The increase in the number of health care workers, those posted at hospitals and their contacts testing positive is a cause of concern. It might be that adequate measures for protection are not being taken by hospital authorities, including those which are not treating Covid-19 cases. There is an urgent need to fix these lapses,” said a district magistrate (DM), requesting anonymity.