Over 60 per cent of coronavirus fatalities in Karnataka’s Bengaluru sought treatment three or more days after the first symptoms of illness emerged, a data of deaths across key hospitals in the city showed. Doctors and health officials are urging high-risk patients to reach out for treatment after the first signs of illness.
Treatment protocols at hospitals are now tuned to consider all patients arriving with severe respiratory illness and influenza-like illness as COVID cases, as the state government pushes efforts to reduce the number of fatalities from that in July.
Bengaluru recorded 1,029 deaths till July 31, with 932 deaths recorded in July alone – when the city witnessed a surge in the number of cases. Nearly 65 percent of deaths in July occurred within 24 hours of hospitalization of the patients or the patients died before reaching a hospital, according to the data given by the Karnataka health department.
At the government-run Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital — a key COVID treatment hospital with 165 beds and 15 ICU ventilator beds — at least 42 patients who died got admitted three or more days after the first symptoms showed up. 20 other patients reported their illenss within one to three days of the first symptoms, while the remaining six patients reported within a day of the first symptoms, the hospital data said.
“We lost 22 patients (over 30 percent) within 14 hours of admission, 30 patients within one to five days of admission, and 16 patients over five days after admission. All the patients had comorbidities, with 48 of them reporting diabetes mellitus as an existing co-morbidity. All came after the development of complications,” Dr Manoj Kumar, the director in-charge of the Bowring Hospital, said.
At the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, a total of 68 deaths were recorded till July 31. According to the mortality analysis data from the hospital, at least 49 of the deceased patients (72 percent) reported their illness between three to seven days of first symptoms.
“Nearly 40 percent of the patients died within 24 hours of admission. Almost 70 to 80 percent died within three days of admission,” Dr C Nagaraja, the director of the RGICD Hospital, said.
At the private St John’s Medical College Hospital — the largest COVID treatment facility in the private sector — there have been 99 deaths till July 31 out of 416 patients admitted with severe breathing distress since the first cases emerged in the city. Dr Sanjiv Lewin, chief of medical services at St John’s said, “My understanding is that patients not getting to ICU in time, co-morbidities, and lack of critical care teams are the three reasons for high mortality in hospitals.”
“They usually come within three to five days to the hospital. It is when breathing difficulties emerge that a person is likely to seek medical help. It is a combination of fever, cough, and breathing difficulties that prompts a hospital visit,” Dr Lewin added. “It is logical that they will reach a hospital in three to five days. But the disease is so fast in older people with comorbidities that it gives you no time,” he said.
These hospitals are looking at all SARI cases as suspected COVID cases as well, to improve treatment outcomes. “When we call cases as SARI, nine out of 10 are confirmed COVID cases. Even if not confirmed, some are highly suspicious because the CT scan looks exactly like a COVID case,” Dr Lewin said.
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