New Delhi: The number of Covid cases may be declining across the country, yet patients are still reluctant to visit hospitals to get checked for non-Covid ailments. It is noteworthy that the pandemic has hampered regular health check-ups, including dentist visits. This hesitation has led to the worsening of existing ailments. Several cases like gallbladder stones, hernia, or appendix problems that require simple laparoscopic surgery are turning into life-threatening conditions as people are scared to visit hospitals.
Dr Shalini Joshi, Senior Medicine Consultant, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru told The Sunday Guardian: “Usually, we picture children getting scared of entering hospitals, but lately adults are experiencing anxiety and fear of hospitals because of the Covid-19 pandemic. When a person is having extreme fear of hospitals, it is termed as ‘nosocomephobia’. We usually see a certain level of anxiety in a few patients regarding their health condition and sometimes it might increase the blood pressure which we call ‘white coat hypertension’. People feel they might catch the virus while visiting the hospital and when they return to their families might pass it on to them unknowingly (these were the words of one of my patients). A few patients feel that sitting next to an unknown person in the hospital waiting area might put them in harm’s way.
They are worried about too many people in a closed AC environment as well.”
The doctors say that if people don’t seek medical attention, it can aggravate their medical conditions.
“High blood pressure is known as a silent killer. Lately, I have seen patients with very high blood pressure and they were not even aware of it. If untreated, it can lead to many problems like stroke, heart problems, eye and kidney damage. People with diabetes are sitting at home with high sugar and are not coming to consult their doctors. People having long-term coughs could be suffering from ailments like tuberculosis or other equally serious conditions, but are afraid to come to the hospital. Regular screening for cancer is also getting affected which in turn is leading to cancer getting diagnosed at later stages,” Dr Joshi said.
Several doctors also said that delayed diagnosis and treatment have made recovery difficult. Meanwhile, due to the pandemic, preventive dental care visits across the country have also dropped as per reports.
Despite the standard of procedures (SOPs) announced by the health authorities and proper hygiene and isolations by the hospitals, people are still worried.
“My message is to encourage people to follow up and seek medical attention for their acute and chronic conditions at their earliest possible because as medical professionals we are taking adequate precautions for the safety of our patients. We have put a restriction on the number of attendants accompanying the patient. Everyone who enters has to mandatorily wear a mask, check and sanitize themselves at the entry gate. Periodic and frequent floor and fomite sanitization procedures are being ensured. Plastic partitions and seating with social distancing among other things are being maintained. Spacious cafeteria and clean drinking packed water are also being made available. Hospitals are also alloting separate areas for Covid and non-Covid patient assessment,” she added.