An investigation by Al Jazeera’s Ina Bhattacharjee and Ali Khodr has found that many people in the US state of Texas are being given ineffective or false information to treat serious and sometimes fatal health problems, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The investigation, based on interviews with doctors, nurses, patients, and community leaders, has revealed that some doctors are not even checking the blood of those they treat to see if they are sick, and some aren’t telling patients when they are feeling better.
This, despite a federal mandate that all health care providers, from hospitals to clinics, be prepared to treat patients if they need it.
“It’s a problem because when people don.t see symptoms or if they don’t know that they are ill, they are not getting the care they need,” Dr Sabrina Smith, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, told Al Jazeera.
“We need to be very clear that we’re not talking about this as a problem of overprescribing or being over-treatment,” she said.
“But there are cases where people are being told they have pneumonia and they do not.”
Smith and Dr James A. Fadness, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, conducted a survey of more than 100 doctors, medical students, nurses and community members across the state, asking about their awareness of the health crisis in Texas.
“The main message that we got from a lot of these doctors is that they don’t have the knowledge, they don”t have to be aware of this,” Smith told Al jazeera.
“They feel like they are treating people who are going to get pneumonia.
They feel like the patient is getting the wrong diagnosis.”
She said she was surprised that, after years of reporting about the outbreak, many doctors were still telling patients they were sick.
“I was surprised to see doctors telling patients that they have a disease, that they cannot do anything,” Smith said.
Smith and Fadess found that most doctors who had been told they were ill were not treating their patients, but rather trying to sell the false information that it was possible to cure pneumonia or other serious health problems.
“Many of these physicians are still doing this despite the federal mandate.
It is very dangerous, because people do not have the time or the resources to be able to test themselves for pneumonia,” she told Al Jena.
In a letter to the governors of Texas, Smith and Fadell wrote:”In addition to failing to educate their patients and treating them incorrectly, many of these physician are continuing to do the very same things that they were telling patients before the outbreak.”
This is very concerning and very dangerous.
We hope you will take these concerns seriously.
“The letter was signed by Smith, Fadeness, Drs.
John Linn and Matthew Hamer, and Dr Andrew Dornan, a professor at Texas A&M University School of Medicine.
Smith said she hopes the letter will bring more attention to the problem of false or misleading health information.”
There is a lot that needs to be done to educate doctors on the dangers of telling patients what they can and cannot do and what is possible,” she added.
The two other US states that have reported the outbreak to the federal government are Oklahoma and New Mexico.
In Texas, there are more than 200 hospitalizations and more than 1,100 deaths due to the coronavirus, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.