In an open letter, they have appealed to the central and state health authorities to stop these “unwarranted” practices and promote evidence-based medicine.
One of the signatories, Dr Sanjay Nagral from Jaslok Hospital, told TOI: “There was a need to say that we are overdoing it—be it with respect to Covid treatment, testing or hospitalisation. This letter is an effort by some doctors to state we don’t agree with some of the practices.”
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The letter, signed by a few Indian-origin doctors from Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities in the US, said the “mistakes of the 2021 response” were being repeated in 2022. The group identified three main issues: Unwarranted medication, unwarranted tests and unwarranted hospitalisation. While most Covid-19 cases now have mild symptoms and will require little to no medication, the group said, “Most prescriptions we have reviewed in the past two weeks include several Covid ‘kits’ and cocktails.”
The prescribing of vitamins and medicines such as azithromycin, doxycycline, hydroxychloroquine, favipiravir and ivermectin is “irrational practice”, said infectious diseases specialist Dr Madhukar Pai from McGill University, Canada. Such “wanton use of drugs” led to the outbreak of mucormycosis during the second Delta wave.
While most Covid-19 patients would only need rapid antigen or PCR test and home monitoring of their oxygen level, many are still being prescribed CT scans and expensive blood tests such as d-dimer and IL6. The letter said such tests, along with unnecessary hospitalisations, put undue financial burden on families.
Another signatory, Dr Satchit Balsari from Harvard Medical School, noted: “Patients have struggled with misinformation around the world. While vaccine hesitancy has been one of the greatest challenges in America where vaccines are so widely available, the wanton use of unwarranted drugs pushed by medical professionals and state representatives in India has been disappointing. One would have hoped that the crushing toll of the Delta wave would have been cause for pause.”
The signatories includeDr Zarir Udwadia from Hinduja Hospital, Bhopal-based medical ethicist Dr Anant Bhan, Dr Charuta Mandke from Cooper Municipal General Hospital and Dr Tushar Shah from Advanced Multispecialty Hospital.
As government guidelines set the standard for treatment in India, the open letter exhorted it to update its June 2021 guidelines.