Delhi High Court Agrees on Screening Patients Before Admission to Emergency and Urgent Elective Surgery

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Dr Manni Hingorani is a Delhi based ENT surgeon. He had filed a petition seeking compulsory COVID testing of patients before undergoing surgery. He filed this PIL against an order passed by the Delhi Government which restricted testing of COVID to symptomatic patients. In the petition, he mentions how it would be life-threatening for the staff to operate on a patient without testing.

In light of the present case, counter-affidavits were filed seeking responses for the aforesaid petition. 

Arguments before the Court

Mr Anand Verma appeared on behalf of the All India Institute for Medical Sciences (AIIMS). They informed the Court that it is mandatory for the COVID-19 test to be carried out in cases of emergency surgical procedures from an ICMR-authorized laboratory. Further, the government’s guidelines suggest a deferment of such medical intervention in elective surgery.

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He further submitted to the Court it would be necessary to ensure that a test gets carried out on any patient who undergoes surgery, whether emergency or elective procedure.

Mr Satyakam, the learned counsel, appeared on behalf of the Delhi Government. He informed the Court that the GNCTD has undertaken special measures. Further, he argued that the Government has augmented the facility of testing labs. In addition to this, the Government has also permitted private hospitals to carry out COVID-19 tests. 

All the three counsels informed the Court about the circular issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, on 03.06.2020. It states the procedure for emergency and elective surgery. 

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Mr B S Shukla appeared on behalf of the Union of India. He highlighted the clause of the guidelines. The protocol states that hospitals must screen patients for COVID-19 before admission to emergency surgery.

Court’s Order

The Court observed that the COVID-19 test is essential. Justice Najmi Waziri presided over this matter. The Court has agreed with the guidelines of the government and AIIMS in the present matter. Hospitals must now screen patients before undergoing surgery. The Court ordered that the concerned parties must strictly follow these guidelines. It thereby dismissed the petition. 


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