Recently, my son fractured his arm and had to be hospitalised for surgery. The hospital required a COVID-19 test result, so the required prescription was written by the doctor. The prescription stated symptoms like cough, fever, and body aches, whereas none of these symptoms were present, other than a pain in the arm due to the fracture. Further, the child was told to state the same symptoms to the person taking the samples. Why?
It is understandable that the hospital wants to know the status of the patient before admission to the hospital for the safety of its medical staff as well as other patients. It is understandable that there should be no mingling of positive and negative patients. However, it is not understandable, why is a false symptoms’ prescription required?
Which also makes me think that how have we arrive on the thousands of “asymptomatic people” conclusion? If these thousands of people were not showing any symptoms, how and why were they tested? What did their doctor’s prescription state? Or are they the ones who are BPL and were tested free of cost by various government schemes, where no prescription is required for testing?
Now when the Centre is contemplating opening educational institutes in a phased manner, students are being asked to return with a COVID-19 “negative” test report. Now when these students would approach the accredited testing labs, along with other required documents, they would be required to produce the doctor’s prescription too, for conducting the test. Therefore, the doctor will write the common symptoms, takes the consultation fee, and gives the prescription.
Which brings me back to my question: Why is the doctor writing a false prescription? Is it because the government has only limited testing abilities and kits? Is it because the government has said that if there are no symptoms, no testing is required? Or is it because this is another avenue of making “an extra buck”?
While I would like to rule out the last thought as I still believe that medical sector and our doctors have put their best foot forward and gone that extra mile to fight this deadly contagion, it leaves me thinking that the set of rules made by the bureaucracy and our babus need to evolve, making it possible for any person to walk in for a test. Do away with doctor’s prescription and writing of the false symptoms. I should have the confidence to give correct information and still be assured that I will be tested.
The COVID-19 test result is not established and based on information in the form. It is the result of biochemical testing and analysis, which would not change, irrespective of stating true or false symptoms.
(Vivek Bali is an independent consultant in the field of commercial aviation, hospitality and tourism sector, avid golfer and aeromodeller)