As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the Netherlands, so has the workload for GGDs. Now, with upwards of 8,000 daily cases, they no longer have the capacity to inform GPs about positive tests.

In a letter dated October 14, Andre Rouvoet, GGD GHOR umbrella chairman writes that it would take too much time for GGDs to ask all people who test positive for the virus for permission to send the result to their GP, and to then ask for that GP’s email address.

He says that since there is no file for GGDs stating who test patients’ GPs are, they must ask individuals for information and permission. However, because such a high percentage of appointments are made over the phone (70%), requesting this information takes up valuable call time, particularly considering the vast majority of information collected at this stage will be superfluous due to a negative test result.

GPs need to know

The chairman acknowledges that the sooner positive test results are shared with GPs, the sooner treatment can begin based on the patient’s risk profile.

Amsterdam GP Stella Zonneveld agrees. “We really need to know who is infected,” she tells NRC Nieuws. She says they now know from studies that “if you start with some oxygen and dexamethasone [an anti-inflammatory] in a seriously ill coronavirus patient from seven days after the first complaints, the chances of recovery are greater.”

According to Zonneveld, knowing who is infected and getting there early can also spare the number of hospital and ICU admissions.

Patients responsible for contacting their GP

Rouvoet writes, “In the short term, GGD GHOR wants to focus on a pragmatic solution: ask people who have tested positive to inform their GP themselves. We expect they will be willing to do that. Especially those with health risks.”

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But GGDs say this isn’t happening enough. Zonneveld says, “We now receive a lot of phone calls from 25-year-olds who are infected, but at-risk patients call less.” According to her, oftentimes, the patient doesn’t know anything can be done about it.

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Feature Image: Anna Shvets/Pexels

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