Journal of Patient Safety and Infection Control

: 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 102--103

Microbiologists playing a significant role in the fight against COVID-19: Learning amidst disparity

Shrishti Makhijani, Renu Gur, Neha Gupta 
 Department of Microbiology, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Renu Gur
Department of Microbiology, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, New Delhi - 110 085

How to cite this article:
Makhijani S, Gur R, Gupta N. Microbiologists playing a significant role in the fight against COVID-19: Learning amidst disparity.J Patient Saf Infect Control 2021;9:102-103

How to cite this URL:
Makhijani S, Gur R, Gupta N. Microbiologists playing a significant role in the fight against COVID-19: Learning amidst disparity. J Patient Saf Infect Control [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Jun 7 ];9:102-103
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Full Text

 Learning Amidst Disparity

Doctors like pluripotent stem cells, over the course of time evolve to gain a specialised function by the end of the post graduate training, and much like the specialised counter-parts, seldom get the chance to gather insight into the role of their diversified peers.

In the unfortunate pathology that stuck society like a virulent storm, I stand to share my silver lining, moving away from the despair of the horrid event. I find joy in the fact that it leaves me with learning that will change my outlook towards my duties as a doctor, as well as value the inputs that my specialised peers put in.

After joining my MD training in microbiology, we were confined to a laboratory setting, with little time spent in outpatient clinics or hospital wards. When the pandemic spread, we rose to the occasion to provide our services to address the gargantuan patient load. Going back to inpatient ward, I was reminded of the last time I was there as an intern, with the enthusiasm to do my best in the service of mankind. While that enthusiasm remained unchanged, my perception had.

With my generalised training during my undergraduate days allowed me to provide care to the patients, a reflex within me began to focus on methods to reduce infection transmission such as hand hygiene, isolation precautions, disinfection and antibiotic policy adherence to reduce antimicrobial resistance.

On the flip side, I realised the difficulty that clinicians faced when putting on protective gear, something, that I was accustomed to while handling specimens in a laboratory setting. In contrast, it felt far more harsh, given the longer duration of wear, as well as the need to do more physical tasks such as resuscitation, securing venous lines and intubating patients.

It made me realise that practical application of theoretical knowledge has its bounds. These limitations are not always understood, given the disparity between the authors in the laboratories and the clinicians in the fields. The subtle nuances of working in a clinical setting, are something I would not have had the opportunity to learn otherwise.

Trying hard to reduce infection transmission and addressing the massive patient inflow, superimposed with dwindling resources, provided key insight into 'the why' regarding certain infection control protocols were overlooked. In most cases due to the urge to provide the best of patient care taking higher precedence.

What I once thought to be fallacies, turned out to be sacrifices, either consciously or subconsciously, and this learning has bolstered my faith in the community, has inspired me to work with more diligence ever since.

Anecdotally, my colleagues had their fair share of internship nostalgia during post-round discussions, where I would be the one going over protocols for biomedical waste management, something they had learned years ago during their undergraduate training and had since forgotten. This was a rare scenario where people from all specialities had an informal exchange and learning in real time, something that I hope I get the chance to have more of in the coming years (and not under the duress of a global pandemic!)

Inversely, I would welcome having formal sessions with clinicians in the laboratories, as it would give them immense insight into the paraclinical processes, and rectify the pre-analytical errors of the reports, thus improving the trust and dependability of the laboratory results. A good inter departmental coordination can help in providing the best of patient care.

Another key learning was a patient who has been my teacher, in more ways than one, and I would say I had the good fortune to have attended to. Mr AR was about the same age as me, and was drenched in sweat when he entered the ward. He had travelled alone 40 km, all in the hopes of getting admission as there were no beds available in the hospitals around him. Undeterred with failing vitals, he managed to make it to our hospital, and was given a poor prognosis at the time of admission. By his second day, he was unable to maintain adequate ventilation and had to be given BiPAP ventilatory support. While most patients struggled with the firm mask, he would smile through the mask, not once to complain, but patiently sitting with the hopes of getting better.

Even in his condition, he showed empathy towards us, knowing the level of stress we were under. Despite my wishes for his recovery, he succumbed to the illness a few days later, smiling through the course of his stay with us. He taught me that empathy extended by a physician is returned in whole if not more by the patient back to the physician. He taught me that we have our roles to play, and while we cannot save every one of our patients, we can do our bits to provide empathy and comfort, to remind them that apart from professionals, we are humans of immense compassion, playing our part in healing the world.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.