At midnight on Thursday, doctors at AIIMS received a message from the emergency department about a 35-year-old farmer from Bihar — a suspected coronavirus patient — who needed surgery.
The man, who had a life-threatening disease, was brought to the hospital by his brother at 10.30 pm. He was in acute pain and his condition was deteriorating with each passing minute.
Within an hour, a team was formed to operate on the patient. By 6 am on Thursday, the operation had been conducted successfully.
A team comprising two anesthetists, three doctors from the department of surgery, a nursing staff, an OT technician, and a floor orderly was formed to treat the patient.
The man was suffering from peritonitis – caused by a leakage or hole in the intestines, such as from a burst appendix. Instead of waiting for the coronavirus test result, the medical team decided to operate on him first as his condition was critical. The patient tested on negative Thursday evening.
“His condition was extremely serious. We had to give him inotropic support to maintain BP levels. He had cough, fever, and breathlessness — all symptoms hinting towards COVID-19. But waiting for the result would have put his life at risk as he was already terminally ill,” said Dr Abhishek Singh from the department of anesthesia, who was part of the team. The patient was shifted to the main OT COVID-19 complex for surgery. The entire team donned PPE gear. The operation lasted five hours and he was shifted to the suspected COVID-19 patients’ ward.
Peritonitis is usually infectious and often life-threatening. Symptoms usually include pain, tenderness, rigid abdominal muscles, fever, nausea and vomiting. Antibiotics are almost always required, along with surgery or drainage.
“In the first hour of surgery, the anaesthesia team readied the patient. The surgical team entered around 2 am. The surgery was completed around 4.30 am, and he was taken out of the OT at 6 am after completing the remaining formalities,” added the doctor.
Doctors across the city have their hands full — addressing concerns related to COVID-19, following up with admitted patients and providing medical assistance to non-COVID patients, apart from double shifts and an imbalanced work-life schedules.
Many say wearing PPEs, masks, gumboots and goggles for several hours has left many with blurred vision, injuries to the foot, and pain behind the ear.
“When you wear an N95 mask, it takes far more energy to breathe in. Also, after you wear goggles along with the mask, humidity from breathing condenses on the goggles… which leads to blurry vision. Similarly, after wearing gumboots for several hours, your legs start to hurt as it has an extremely hard sole. However, in the end, we want our patients to be healthy,” said Dr Abhishek Singh, Senior Resident, Department of Anesthesiology, AIIMS.
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