'Can’t force SARI, ILI patients to take Covid test'

Can’t force SARI, ILI patients to take Covid test: Bengaluru hospitals

PHANA president Dr Prasanna HM said the mandate would cause resentments

Representative Image. Credit: DH File Photo/B K Janardhan

The BBMP has asked private hospitals to test all SARI ILI outpatients for Covid and advise other patients to take the test if necessary. 

K V Thrilok Chandra, Special Commissioner (Health), Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), issued the instruction on December 20 while addressing a meeting of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) and representatives of more than 100 private hospitals. 

Some hospitals were sceptical about implementing the mandate given the cost of RT-PCR tests in private hospitals. A Rapid Antigen Test costs Rs 400 at private labs, while both RT-PCR and Rapid Antibody Test (IgG Elisa) would each cost Rs 500. TrueNat costs Rs 1,250 and CBNAAT test Rs 1,600. 

Private labs and hospitals also put an additional Rs 250 cost for collecting samples from home. The government has fixed the rates. 

PHANA president Dr Prasanna HM said the mandate would cause resentments. “We’ll have to refer those who can’t pay to government-run urban primary health centres (PHCs) where tests are free,” he said. “Very few tests have been done. We must start implementing it now.” 

Dr Ravindra Mehta, Chief of Pulmonology and Critical Care at Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru, said the ILI part happens usually at the beginning of a possible wave. “Practically, who can mandate (the patients)?” he asked. “We can only advise. We wonder how the civic body is planning to implement this. Patients decide on their own whether to undergo the test or not.” 

Dr Reshma Sunil, unit head at Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital, Girinagar, said many people still cannot afford RT-PCR tests though its rate has been brought down from Rs 800 in October to Rs 500. She also said it would be difficult to test all OPD patients since they should pay for the test and for doctor’s consultation. 

“We can’t test people coming to the hospital’s OPD, if they come for their diabetes or appendicitis,” she said. “We can only tell patients that they should take a Covid test if they’ve upper or lower respiratory symptoms. We can’t coerce them if it involves money. We’ve told this to the BBMP. We currently perform up to 25 tests a day at OPD.” 

Suguna Hospital’s director Dr Ravindra Ramaiah said they do not see a problem in testing patients since they have always tested SARI and ILI patents and reported the results. “The government issued a similar circular during the first wave,” he recalled. 

Sakra World Hospital’s Chief of Medical Services Dr Deepak Balani said their hospital tests patients with ILI or SARI symptoms. 

Check out latest DH videos here

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox