It will be institution’s responsibility to run a rapid antigen test, says government
The West Bengal government has issued an order that allows patients needing emergency care to seek immediate admission in any hospital — government or private — without a COVID-19 report.
It will be the responsibility of the hospital to admit patients without delay and run a rapid antigen test (RAT). In case they test positive, they will be sent to the COVID-19 ward and in case negative, they will have to undergo the RT-PCR test and be treated on the basis of its outcome.
So far, in West Bengal, RAT was allowed only in government hospitals — according to sources, the administration did not wish to raise the daily cases by making it widespread — and the new order would not only reduce the waiting period for patients but also take the load off labs conducting RT-PCR.
“It is hereby reiterated that this directive is applicable for all hospitals, both private and government, including COVID-designated hospitals. All such patients needing urgent attention are to be admitted in SARI beds for necessary management. RAT should be done for detection of COVID-19. No patient can be referred without stabilisation and arrangement of bed in the hospital referred to,” the order, issued on Monday, said.
The highly vocal West Bengal Doctors’ Forum saw the order as its victory because it had, for long, been pressing for the use of RAT by private hospitals. “Right from June 2020, we had been communicating with the State government on a weekly basis, pleading that even private hospitals be allowed to conduct RAT. Finally this has happened, after almost a year,” said Dr. Koushik Chaki, founding secretary of the forum.
“The order is not only expected to minimise the possibility of patients being refused admission but also streamline COVID-19 management, apart from going a long way in checking cross-infections. It gives legitimacy to scientific and rational triaging,” Dr. Chaki said.