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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 7-11

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Treatment Decisions of Patients Treated by Hematologists in Saudi Arabia

1 Department of Hematology, Faculty of Medicine; Hematology Research Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
2 Hematology Research Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center; Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ahmed S Barefah
Department of Hematology, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/joah.joah_85_22

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BACKGROUND: As on March 12, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. Its rapid spread has posed major challenges to the management of health-care systems. Patients with hematological disorders, being immunocompromised in more ways than one, face a lot of challenges. Most of these patients require frequent visits to health-care facilities for transfusion support, infusions, surveillance, and follow-ups, which increase the risk of exposure and hence infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. AIM: We assessed the impact of the pandemic on the decisions of hematologists in Saudi Arabia. Method: An online survey was done through questionnaires, to understand the decisions and course of clinical treatments taken. 45 hematologist answered 20-questions structured questionnaires through online link. RESULTS: The majority of hematologist have used virtual clinics in managing patients and have delayed or canceled well visits. Although some hematologist delayed treatment in stable patients like autologous stem cell transplantation for myeloma patients, the majority did not delay induction or consolidation therapies for patients with leukemia with curative intent plans. CONCLUSION: The crisis brought along with it challenges and opportunities to improve patient care through research and clinical practice. Telemedicine was sought for supporting outpatients. Malignancies were taken care of, with due precautions. Observations of decisions of hematologists resulted in the patients still being closely followed up and urgent treatments being attended to. The hematologists expressed satisfaction with the use of telemedicine. Online consultations and monitoring of patients could probably be taken as an alternative resource in such situations.

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