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Apprehensive family forces Kolkata
hospital to retain SARS patient
April 28, 2003 21:16 IST
A Kolkata hospital had to retract its decision to discharge a SARS patient after his relatives nixed the move despite clearance from the West Bengal government.
Asitava Purakayastha, a textile machinery expert, was admitted to a hospital on April 20 for a heart ailment, but was bundled off to the Beliaghata Infectious Disease Hospital by doctors the next day as soon as they came to know that he had recently visited China.
Purakayastha was finally admitted to the Apollo AMRI Hospital on April 22 with a cardiac ailment but was later found to be afflicted with SARS.
He was declared fit for discharge on Monday morning after doctors found him 'asymptomatic and afebrile' (without any symptoms or high fever), hospital CEO Jose Verghese told mediapersons.
The decision was taken after a green signal from the state's health authorities and in conformation with WHO-CDC guidelines, which specifies that despite testing positive for the virus a patient might be released if found asymptomatic.
State's Director of Health Services told newspersons at the state secretariat that the updated WHO discharge-and-follow-up protocol for SARS received on Monday required that patients should be devoid of fever for 48 hours, should have no dissolving cough, normal platelet count and normal functioning of liver.
However, as Verghese and Chatterjee were addressing separate media briefings on the patient's discharge, his angry relatives protested against the 'forceful' eviction.
They insisted on awaiting the result of the test on the sample sent to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV).
Hospital authorities had to finally give in to their demand.
Pulmonary consultant Dr Subhasish Ghosh, who is attending on the patient, said the latter did not show the classical symptoms of SARS, but his nasal swap sample on Saturday tested positive at the state-run Infectious Diseases Hospital, where he was first admitted.
The patient has been kept in isolation.
"He does not show symptoms of active SARS and the blood count is near normal. But even after discharge, he will have to be kept in quarantine at home for the next 10 days," Ghosh said.
However, the patient's sister alleged the family had been subjected to untold harassment pointing out that the patient had to change hospitals twice.
"They have commercial interests in mind -- They want to drive us out as they do not want to lose patients. But my brother's cardiac condition is not yet stable and he has yet to be certified SARS negative," she said.
Admitting that the family was apprehensive about the disease, she said they did not want to take the patient home unless they were fully satisfied about his condition.
However, AMRI Superintendent Dr S K Todi insisted there was no reason to panic even if the test was positive.
"It does not confirm he has SARS. He can be treated only when he shows the symptoms."SARS Attack: Complete Coverage
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