The number of cases of infection with Covid-19 is increasing. There are already more than 150 confirmed cases in Germany. Many concerned people with symptoms head to emergency rooms or general practices. At the same time, protective masks or disinfectants are hoarded. This annoys doctors. Four family doctors tell what they have experienced in the past few days, what preparations they are making and what they can expect in the next few weeks.
"I'm worried about my health." Dieter Schmitz *, general practitioner from Bochum
I am a family doctor and will turn 70 this year. I still practice because I like my job. With my age I am now in the risk group myself. And yes, I'm worried about my health. I have already considered whether I should stay at home, whether I should close the practice. But I rejected that, in my city, care would no longer be guaranteed if all older colleagues closed their practices. I am not alone in this, many of my colleagues are older than 60 and are concerned because they do not feel well prepared and because we do not have enough equipment to protect ourselves. We have now also written this in a letter to Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn.
We don't feel well informed by the official bodies. For a long time there were no instructions, now we have been told by the professional associations that we should carry out the tests by visiting the house. The Robert Koch Institute strongly recommends that you do not perform an examination or test for Covid-19 without protective equipment. After all, we have to dig deep into the throat of the patients. If you take the sample only superficially, the results are not very meaningful, the error rate is high. So we really get close to the patient.
But we don't have enough equipment to protect ourselves and our employees. I still have ten protective suits in stock and got glasses at the hardware store that I can use myself during the examination. The suits are disposable, so I cannot examine more than ten patients suspected of having corona. If I come into contact with an infected patient without protection, I not only endanger myself, but would have to close the practice for 14 days and put the staff, relatives and treated patients under house arrest.
"We are trying to be careful with the situation." Klaus Fischer, general practitioner from Bonn
My practice is a few minutes by car from the Bonn school, where there is a confirmed Corona case, there are naturally many people concerned. We are in contact with 40 to 70 patients per day, which is normal in the period after the carnival and during the cold period. The difference is that half of them ask: Do I have Corona? Just last night I went to see a teacher at home. She had a cold and wanted to be tested to see if she was infected with corona. I examined her thoroughly, listened to her lungs, looked in my throat and throat. Then I advised her against the test and wrote her off for two weeks. She should sleep soundly. The diagnosis would have had no other consequence than staying at home. So far I have only smeared one patient, it was negative. She had no symptoms; her employer had sent her to us after her business trip to Italy.
We try to handle the situation with prudence and to keep calm. We also discussed this in our team meeting. We don't use words like "panic" or "hysteria". We also don't say: "You don't have to be afraid", at the latest then the person gets scared. But of course we take the situation very seriously. We keep ourselves informed about the Robert Koch Institute. We also have a good network of general practitioners here in town. We make regular calls. In practice, we point the patient to the disinfectant dispenser for the hands in all rooms, at the reception we have mouth protection for patients who come with a cough. If our employees see from a distance that a patient is seriously ill, they don't put the patient in the waiting room, but in another room.