SRINAGAR: Three WhatsApp groups, operated by doctors stationed at different locations in the Kashmir valley, have saved the lives of more than 2000 patients since the network was formed in December last year.
According to Dr Nasir Shams, one of its founding members, the groups help in coordination among various doctors to provide the immediate treatment required by a patient who suffered heart attack.
“See when a patient suffers heart attack, he needs immediate treatment because after half an hour, a patient’s heart is damaged by 10 percent,” said Dr Shams. “So a patient stationed miles away from the main hospital takes hours to reach, by which time he is either dead or his heart is damaged by 75 percent.”
The groups, said Shams, have so far saved more than 2000 patients who would otherwise have died. The idea grew from the groups’ three founders – Dr Imran Hafiz who is a cardiologist at SKIMS, Dr Muzaffar Zaragar and Dr Nasir Shams, a physician at the Health Department – to 700 doctors spread across Kashmir and outside. Dr Shams said the outside doctors are from the United States and European countries that help during evenings when doctors in the Valley are not available.
The groups received massive support from the Heath Department in December 2017 after they had worked successfully for one and a half years. At present, there are 60 hospitals in the Valley which are part of the groups.
“Upon treating the 2000 patients, the groups saved some patients without using stents; in some cases, only a stent was used where otherwise there was a possibility of using two to three stents. They saved time and provided apt treatment,” Dr Shams added.
While Kashmir was celebrating Eid on June 16, Dr Irfan operated on a 50-year-old patient who had complained of chest pain at Sub-district Hospital Kangan. His tests were put on the WhatsApp groups, where doctors advised him advancement treatment. Within an hour, he was treated and saved from a major heart attack.
“All these services are provided free of cost. It has amplified quality health care and enabled doctors to exercise skills which they are trained with,” Dr Shams added.
The importance of these groups is in the immediate feedback they are able to provide to the Valley which is poorly connected by roads and suffers a lack of infrastructure at scores of hospitals spread across it.