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Tips for visiting the doctor and hospital during the corona pandemic
Despite the corona pandemic, should you go to annual checks and sit in the waiting room of the doctor's office? Many people are now afraid of getting infected with the new coronavirus among doctors. Health professionals give tips on how to deal with the situation.
The annual check-up, the appointment with the specialist: Many doctor's appointments are made months in advance. And now suddenly there is this pandemic. Should I still sit in the waiting room? The corona pandemic is far from over. Our everyday life will also be very different for the next few months. The question arises: what should I go to the doctor with and what can wait?
Advance call by telephone makes sense
If in doubt, ask the doctor yourself, preferably by phone. Because every practice and every sick person is different. Flat-rate answers are therefore difficult. "There are about a billion doctor-patient contacts in Germany every year," says Roland Stahl, spokesman for the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV). Many of these visits to the doctor are necessary and should not be postponed. "Especially with chronically ill people, it is still important that they go to the doctor regularly." Preventive examinations should only be canceled or postponed in consultation with your doctor. "Because he has the best overview of what needs to be and what doesn't."
Think before going to the family doctor
All of this applies particularly to the family practice. After all, it is not only the first point of contact for all kinds of medical problems, but is also directly involved in the fight against the corona pandemic.
But do patients have to avoid them? No, says Anke Richter-Scheer, general practitioner in Bad Oeynhausen in Lower Saxony and a member of the board of the German General Practitioners' Association.
Do not hesitate in an emergency
If you have acute complaints, you should go to the doctor. This does not only apply to severe pain. "Even with a simple bladder infection, as a patient you shouldn't wait, but contact your family doctor promptly to avoid any complications that may arise," says Richter-Scheer.
Parkinson's patients, diabetics and other people with chronic diseases also need to be cared for, the doctor said. Preventive appointments without acute complaints, however, would have to wait at the moment. "But it is also clear that prevention is important." In case of doubt, call the practice first.
What to do if you suspect Corona?
Anyone who has a cough, sore throat, fever or runny nose - i.e. symptoms of Covid 19 or suspected infection - should definitely stay at home and make calls on the phone. A sick leave is currently still possible by phone for such symptoms.
Depending on the case and the federal state, there are different regulations, according to Richter-Scheer - from treatment or diagnostic centers to fever clinics. In addition, there are so-called infection consultation hours especially for such patients in general practice. In this way, they do not come into contact with other visitors to the practice.
Special rules from pediatricians to gynecologists
Acute case yes - preventive care rather no - infection consultation for cold symptoms: This triad currently applies to general practitioners and has been modified in many other specialist practices.
Pediatricians have relaxed their time requirements: Parents and doctors can make up for appointments at a later date with the U6 preventive medical check-up, which is supposed to take place between the tenth and twelfth months of life. This does not apply to the U2 to U5: they should continue to take place as planned and specified.
Don't wait for a toothache
The German Dental Association explains: Of course, anyone who has a toothache must go to the doctor. Planned treatments, from the tartar to the wisdom tooth, should also continue for the time being - otherwise the risk of complications would be too great. Check-ups, on the other hand, can wait in consultation with the doctor.
All appointments are still carried out for pregnant women, according to the professional association of gynecologists (BVF). Other precautionary appointments are also possible in principle - if the schedule in practice, including new security and protection measures, allows.
Many practices currently schedule appointments so that the waiting rooms are as empty as possible. Punctual arrival is therefore mandatory. Companions are often undesirable. Exceptions can apply if someone cannot communicate without an interpreter.
Doctors are concerned about missing patients
The hospitals should switch back to normal operations, but will the patients also come? Doctors are alarmed because even seriously ill people with acute treatment needs stay away. Very few patients with serious health problems come to the hospital for fear of becoming infected with Corona.
Doctors in hospitals are seeing a worrying trend in the corona crisis. For fear of infection, far fewer patients with acute treatment needs come to the clinics. "We find that diagnoses such as suspected stroke, heart attack or appendicitis have decreased significantly," says Siegfried Hasenbein, managing director of the Bavarian Hospital Association in Munich. The same applies to cancer patients.
Patients stay at home with serious problems
There are no precise statistics yet, but doctors register the phenomenon throughout Germany: "Suddenly we have far fewer patients with urgent symptoms," says lung cancer specialist Niels Reinmuth, chief physician for thoracic oncology at the Asklepios specialist clinic in Gauting near Munich. "This is something that we all observe." One of the main reasons is probably fear: "The fear of becoming infected is obviously so great that many prefer not to go to the doctor at all," says a spokesman for the German Hospital Society in Berlin.
Does Corona Have a Wave of Heart Failure?
From a medical point of view, this is worrying. "We are concerned that in summer we will have many patients who would have come four months earlier," says Reinmuth. Cardiologists are already discussing whether Germany could face a wave of heart failure after Corona, as a Munich specialist reports. "You really have to call for it: don't stay at home with serious problems," says the oncologist.
Limited practice operation
In 2018 there were 210,000 heart attacks and around 300,000 strokes in Germany. Nobody in the medical community believes that these numbers have suddenly decreased due to the corona epidemic. The fact that many resident specialists have restricted their practice operations is believed to contribute to the phenomenon, so that fewer patients are referred. "But it must be avoided that fear of the virus causes other diseases and deaths," said a spokesman for the hospital company North Rhine-Westphalia in Düsseldorf.
The greatest medical crisis of the past decades has so far had the peculiar consequence of an unusually weak occupancy rate for hospitals. The feared wave of corona patients did not come to the relief of everyone involved. All predictable treatments - the so-called "elective" cases - have been postponed. The German Hospital Society estimates that 150,000 beds are currently available nationwide.
Gradual return to regular operations planned
Against this background, the NDR also reported cases of short-time work at clinics. According to the hospital company, however, this is "not a widespread phenomenon". There is no reason for short-time work for clinics because there is a financial protection shield. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) referred to the Hospital Relief Act passed due to the corona pandemic. Clinics therefore receive a flat rate of 560 euros per day for beds kept free.
Spahn had announced last week that the hospitals could gradually return to "regular operations" from the beginning of May. The medical associations are currently developing concepts for this, he said. “We don't want to keep 40 percent of the intensive care ventilation beds in Germany permanently free. That is not necessary either. ”(Vb; source: dpa / tmn)