04 Jun Jonathan Cartu Stated: Eye & dental clinics begin ops after state approval |
Kolkata: Doctors specialized in eye and dental care are at a higher risk of getting infected by Covid-19 while attending patients or conducting a surgical procedure. But with the West Bengal government recently issuing guidelines on safety measures, eye and dental hospitals have started OPD services. Elective surgeries, too, have started picking up but in limited numbers.
“Some dental surgical procedures are highly aerosol-generating. This raises the risk of infecting the surgeon and attendants in the OT room. Baring such procedures all services have been opened and doctors are taking precautionary measures as per the government guidelines,” said Raju Biswas, secretary of Indian Dental Association, attached with R Ahmed Dental College, Kolkata.
The only dental college in the city that would see a daily OPD footfall of over 1,000 currently has about 200 patients. All patients are screened for symptoms before they proceed with the treatment.
The chain of eye hospitals also started elective surgical procedures on May 10, but as patients are few, the number of surgical procedures is only about 5% of what used to be before the lockdown.
“During contact procedures like a laser treatment or putting a lens, the doctor need to touch the retina. Therefore sterilizing the eye before the procedure, sanitizing the contact instruments, etc are among the measures we are implementing in order to minimize the chance of infection,” said Debasish Bhattacharya, chairman and managing director at Disha Eye Hospitals.
“During the lockdown, we carried out emergency procedures. Now, all our branches are open for OPD services and elective surgeries. There is a steady rise in the OPD footfall, which is about 25% of the normal. All precautions are being taken up according to government guidelines,” said Bhattacharya.
The guidelines also advise to avoid aerosol generating procedures. Hence, dental surgeons are not taking up procedures like root canal treatment, crown cutting and ultrasonic scaling, for now.
“These are procedures that release aerosol and pathogens. Thus, there is a risk of infection if the patient is asymptomatic for Covid. We are carrying out other dental treatment wearing personal protection equipment,” said Tirthankar Debnath, assistant professor at R Ahmed Dental College.
Although patients are asked to wear a mask while visiting a doctor in the OPD of a hospital or a clinic, one in need of dental care cannot be examined with the mask on.
“There is risk in all kinds of medical care right now. But then we need to live with this pandemic for some time. Therefore, it is better to gear up and start attending to patients by taking precautions,” said a source at Regional Institute of Ophthalmology.