Fewer doctors, nurses in Sewri hospital contract TB in six years
Senior doctors from the hospital said stringent implementation of infection control norms and nutritious food options for the staff has helped reduce TB casesUpdated: Oct 09, 2018 23:56 IST
The Group of Tuberculosis Hospitals (GTB), Sewri, the country’s biggest facility to treat the disease, has managed to reduce transmission rates for the disease among its staff in the past six years.
The high number of TB cases among hospital staff was an issue of concern, resulting in doctors and other staff reluctant to work there.
In 2014, six doctors including four psychiatrists and two chest physicians, refused to join GTB. While the doctors did not cite any specific reason for not joining, hospital authorities had said that fear of infection could have been the reason.
Information obtained through a Right to Information (RTI) Act shows that the number of staff members, who contacted the disease, has reduced. A total of 32 staff members were infected with TB in 2013, out of which, 10 died. Only one new case has been reported in 2018 and no deaths, according to a query filed by RTI activist Chetan Kothari.
Senior doctors from the hospital said stringent implementation of infection control norms and nutritious food options for the staff has helped reduce TB cases. “We have scaled up the infection control norms in the past four years. The staff started wearing a good quality N95 mask and we tell patients to wear surgical masks,” said Dr Lalit Anande, medical superintendent, TB hospital, Sewri.
He added that a special out-patient department for the hospital staff went a long way in ensuring early diagnosis among health workers. “We have an OPD every three months only for the staff members and their family during which we test them for TB,” he added.
Doctors said health workers at the hospital are exposed to TB cases directly and so have higher chance of developing the infection compared to others.
A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Medical and Health Research found that 12% of the TB cases were among healthcare workers in the age group of 49 and 58 years — with more men developing the condition compared to women.
“The finding shows that a staff member, working at the hospital for many years, may have a higher chance of infection. There should be rotation among staff members so that they are transferred to other hospitals every three to five years,” said Dr Rajendra Nanavare, a pulmonologist and former superintendent, Sewri TB Hospital and the lead author of the study.
“The staff at the hospital is always overburdened as many posts are perpetually vacant,” he added.
The study also found the prevalence of multi drug resistant tuberculosis in health workers was 58% — which is higher compared to those previously treated.
“TB among health workers is an occupational hazard. All measures need to be taken to ensure that hospital staff do not contract it,” Dr Nanavare said.
First Published: Oct 09, 2018 23:56 IST