Dear friends and colleagues,
I hope this message finds you as well as can be expected during such extraordinary times.
As members of the larger medical fraternity, I’m sure many of you, like me, are processing in your own ways what has been unravelling in the country over the past few weeks. I have been grappling with some thoughts which I feel are important to share with you.
Firstly, given the constantly changing nature of how this global pandemic is evolving, I want to appeal to all of us to think carefully about proceeding with ‘business as usual’. It is up to us to decide on the requirement and the emergency nature of surgery and we have to use this option in a judicious manner, taking into consideration the welfare and safety of the supporting staff. Kindly use your discretion in a wise manner. While we are fulfilling our duties as surgeons and saving lives, this is a moment for us to pause and reflect if proceeding with our regular schedules is indeed the most responsible thing to do.
Secondly, being doctors ourselves, the whole country and indeed, the whole world, is looking to us now for answers. Given this responsibility, let’s also be mindful of sharing our opinions on covid19, and ask ourselves if we have full information before we do this. This is especially important during interactions with the media- it is important for us to acknowledge that in a global pandemic of this nature, we as a community of cardiothoracic surgeons are certainly not the experts.
We must and should defer to those frontline health workers- doctors, nurses, lab technicians- who are at the forefront of this struggle. In these times where WhatsApp forwards are the new facts, we must ensure that we ourselves are not contributing to misinformation and false panic.
I urge us all to consider some of these preliminary questions as the situation is unfolding. It is important that each one of us does our bit, and let us definitely have some concrete things we can do, especially for the most vulnerable in our country, at this difficult time.
Dr. Bashi V. Velayudhan
I hope you and your dear ones well and safe.
I would like to notify two important developments in these rather unusual circumstances, which may be of interest and help to you in the clinical setting.
As our nation continues to grapple with the escalating situation of COVID-19 and hopes of the society stay pinned up to our fraternity on an unprecedented scale, the expectations and stakes are high-as is always the case in cardiothoracic surgery.
Yet, what has changed this time is the rapid development of this pandemic and the inflection it continues to show before man can trace or predict it's course. Data and information have become vital in making decisions-more so in the operating room and intensive care where the atmosphere to perform flawlessly has the added burden of determining the COVID-status of the patient every step along the way.
By an initiative of the Executive Committee, the IACTS COVID-19 Task Force was formed under the leadership of President Dr. Bashi V. Velayudhan. Members of this task-force included Drs. K.S Iyer, Z.S Meharwal, O.P Yadava & C.S Hiremath.
Among its mandate in helping mitigate through the present scenario and re-establish practise in the "new setting" was to establish a stare decisis for units across the country to adopt and incorporate. The official IACTS Guidelines were authored and have now been published through a stringent peer-review process in the IJTC with the primary intent of helping CTVS units across the country deal with clinical enigma and challenges that may be associated with COVID-19 with more clarity and evidence. This document is intended to serve as a guide or a template for units to modify and use suitably in exercising clinical care of patients with cardiovascular, vascular and thoracic disease.
Needless to say, you will find that the document is comprehensive and the authors have tried to cover all aspects of cardiothoracic surgery that have been convoluted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Given the novelty of this disease across geography, the rate of reporting and information published hitherto has been found to be at an all-time high and with substantial variance. This has made it difficult to assess and gauge the accuracy and efficacy of the information we see and read.
An official IACTS portal detailing the consensus on various issues, again from credible sources has been published on the website along with a tab on the main-page dedicated for issues related to COVID-19. Every attempt has been made to ensure that the resources published are open source and free to access. Please note that it is being updated on a daily basis with information that is relevant, accurate, up-to-date and authentic.
Do feel free to use this facility to maximum benefit and kindly share them with colleagues and peers who might find it useful.
The link to the IACTS COVID-19 portal is https://iacts.org/content/
Dr. C.S Hiremath
Indian Association of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgeons