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Doctors at AIIMS Jhajjar using WhatsApp to consult COVID-19 positive, but healthy patients: Report

At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Jhajjar, a WhatsApp number is being used to send information about patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, but are healthy, the Economic Times reports. Information about a patient’s vitals, ECG, X-Ray etc., are reportedly being sent to doctors over WhatsApp, who can then advice health workers present at the facility on how to manage the patient without having to go to the ICU personally. This comes after India’s Health Ministry notified the Telemedicine Guidelines 2020 last month, allowing doctors to consult patients via phone, video, and chat applications including telemedicine platforms and WhatsApp.

So far, over 9,000 people in India have tested positive for the virus, which has also claimed over 300 lives, according to data maintained by the Health Ministry.

The report also cautions against the consumption of hydroxychloroquine — one of the drugs being used as a prophylaxis for health workers — by the general public, without prescription, since it can have side effects including irregular heartbeat, stomach gastroenteritis, and toxic liver disease. The government is also launching a portal that will guide patients on the drug, to the nearest pharmacy where it is available.

The Telemedicine Guidelines 2020, place the onus on the doctor to decide whether a teleconsultation will suffice, or if an in-person review is needed, based upon factors such as complexity of the patient’s situation, whether he/she can identify the patient, among other things. Apart from direct doctor-patient consultation, telemedicine consultations can be held between a caregiver and doctor; doctor to doctor; and health worker to doctor.

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