The Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) on Monday issued a circular allowing telephonic consultation by registered medical practitioners, who could prescribe drugs online to patients with underlined riders that it was only for the emergency phase. However, online consultations would be restricted to minor ailments, routine follow-ups and patients whose medical history is known to doctors.
The circular issued by Sanjay Deshmukh, registrar of MMC, said, “Doctors are advised against prescribing injections.” Deshmukh also directed that all records have to be strictly preserved and it should be mentioned as a header on the letter head of the prescription being issued on telephonic consultation.
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, state president of Indian Medical Association, said the circular strongly advised against giving any prescription for COVID-19. “During this crisis, we have advised doctors to keep their clinics open only for emergency patients. Telephonic consultation can be allowed for routine/non-emergency patients,” Dr Bhondwe said, adding, “Those who have flu like symptoms can be attended separately to avoid overcrowding.”
Hospital managements have also directed their doctors who are 60 years old or above to stay at home and offer consultation via WhatsApp or FaceTime calls. Bomi Bhote, CEO of Ruby Hall Clinic, said at least 35 of their doctors and health care staff were working from home. “We are also facing blood shortage and it is not feasible to take on surgeries, except the emergency ones. The occupancy rate has come down by 50 per cent and the staff has been told to work on alternate days in 12-hour shifts,” Bhote said.
Dr S S Gill, medical director at Jehangir hospital, said they have taken up similar measures of trimming staff aged over 60 years and rationalising the shifts. He added that major surgeries were being attended.
Dr Umesh Vaidya, regional medical director of the neonatology unit at Cloudnine hospital, said, “While the government has asked to shut the routine OPD till further notice, consultants are taking hospital rounds and attending emergency patients.”
Dr Sunita Tandulwadkar, head of obstetric department at Ruby Hall Clinic, said they performed six deliveries last week and another six to seven were due by the first week of April. “I am consulting them telephonically or via FaceTime. So, barring the foetal heartbeat check up, I am aware of the condition of each of my patients,” Dr Tandulwadkar said.
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