Working of a doctor and nurses has never free from risk to themselves. The risk is generally underestimated, although it often involves major risk to their life. Problem is that majority of people, society, governing bodies and even doctors themselves do not perceive or acknowledge many times the risks seriously. Deadly Corona virus has unmasked and unveiled the danger to nurses and doctors, the topic often suppressed, shunned by administrators and those who govern.
An extreme example is the Chinese doctor, who was reprimanded, humiliated and made to apologize for doing right. But this one example is tip of the iceberg, for the Global phenomenon, where risk to front line workers is ignored routinely. They are just taken as the routine workers, who have consented to be sacrificed. Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistle-blowers who warned other medics of the coronavirus outbreak but were reprimanded by the police, died of the epidemic on Thursday,
Administrators and regulators refrain to study data that would establish and quantify the occupational hazards of being a doctor and nurses. Some of these hazards may be known, but there is no comprehensive analysis of workplace risk for physicians and nurses, like those that have been done for other professions. As physicians, we have a sense of the risk, and yet we remain engaged, continuing to care for our patients as we know “these things” happen. Perhaps society prefers to remain blissfully ignorant of the sacrifice and risk their doctors and nurses take on, comforted by the fantasy of the serene hospital. Perhaps we all despise to let reality and data shatter the illusion.
But since these risks are increasing exponentially every day, because of unknown and mutated germs (bacteria and viruses), awareness is needed. There are lesser set procedures, lack of awareness, not protective equipment or supportive society, governance and laws, at most of the places globally. doctors and nurses continue to work in danger zones. These risks can be of varied types and contracting the diseases is just one of them.
Patients carrying specially unknown germs are handled by doctor and nurses, who have no clue, what they are dealing with. Time gap in such patients coming to the hospital and the exact diagnosis of finding a dreaded disease, may be quite dangerous to doctors and nurses. To add to the problem, In large number of patients, exact viruses cannot be diagnosed or even suspected. In many cases of ARDS, the causative organism cannot be isolated or identified. It is important for doctors and nurses to take universal precautions at every level. There can be many more viruses or germs which are yet to be discovered or mutated ones that are unknown.
H1N1, Zika, Ebola, SARS are few examples, just to imagine that they existed and handled by health workers as unknown germs, till they were discovered.
Worst part is that our systems are not defined to prevent, treat or compensate or even acknowledge for these big disasters, if it happens to healers. These problems are not known to students, when they decide to take medicine, nor they are taught in medical school. Most of the time they have to fend for themselves, if problems occur.
Everyday globally, the doctors and the nurses greet the new day and return to their work of taking care of their patients, knowing well the risk involved.
Maybe it is time that we are little more aware and acknowledge that even doing everything in best manner and honestly, they are in a conflict zone and are all in harm’s way. Just be careful and be mindful that doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers, may get sickened, injured, disabled even as they care for their patients in best manner.