Karnataka alters rules for issuing BU numbers

Patients with CT scan showing COVID-19 infection will get BU number even if RT-PCR test says otherwise

Recently, actor Pavan posted a video on how citizens with negative RT-PCR reports, but with CT scans detecting COVID-19 infection, are not given BU numbers for hospitalisation. Taking cognisance of such cases and false negative reports that are being increasingly reported in the city, the Karnataka government has tweaked existing protocols to ensure that such citizens are given BU numbers to enable hospitalisation and immediate medical attention.

An order, issued by the Department of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday, however, offers no solace to scores of families who have lost their loved ones due to complications and delay in hospitalisation for want of patient numbers.

Suresh Kumar, brother of a COVID-19 patient, who succumbed to the infection recently, said there was a delay of over five days in delivery of the RT-PCR test result. By then, his brother’s condition had deteriorated. “We got a chest CT scan done, which clearly indicated COVID-19. But no BU number had been generated, since the RT-PCR result was delayed. We had to run from pillar to post to get him admitted in a hospital. After much struggle, we admitted him in the emergency ward of a hospital, but it took another two days to get an ICU bed,” he said. His brother died of complications two days after being hospitalised.

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) health officials admitted that many such cases were being reported following the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the second wave. BBMP Special Commissioner (Health) P. Rajendra Cholan maintained that it was very difficult to quantify such cases.

This decision will help COVID-19 infected persons get timely admission and treatment, especially those who seek treatment in government hospitals and private hospitals through SAST reference.

Incidentally, the health department had issued a similar order last October and had directed all government and private hospitals to strictly follow a syndromic approach in treating such cases.

The order had taken note of studies that had found CT thorax scans had greater sensitivity (86%-98%) and lower false-negative rate than the RT-PCR test, and stated that it was essential that a proxy syndrome, called COVID-19 Like Syndrome or COVID-19 Probable case be used to identify such cases.

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