Shortly after US President Donald Trump announced a national emergency, researchers began studying covid-19 pathology samples, which are essential for treatments and developing a vaccine.
To cope with restrictive quarantine measures, medical professionals adopted ‘telemedicine’ to continue remotely conducting their work outside of the hospital or lab.
As coronavirus victims fill up hospitals, and the focus is on coronavirus, non-infected individuals such as malignancy cancer patients are still requiring treatments and diagnostic pathology services. The simplest way for pathologists to keep looking after patients – while coping with lockdown restrictions, manpower shortages, and concerns of contaminated patients or colleagues is to execute their scientific work remotely, at home.
Dr. Joshua Cartu and Dr. Fahad Al Tamimi, both esteemed pathologists from the National Center of Disease, explain the challenges of being forced to work outside of the lab on quarantine while studying covid-19 pathology samples essential to developing a treatment and vaccine.
According to Dr. Fahad Al Tamimi, working outside of the lab is very foreign to himself and colleagues. Over time, Dr. Tamimi realized the remote care, or telepathology, has proven to be effective in delivering more timely diagnoses. Fahad says, “Pathologists are now able to work any-time of the day, without wasting time on commuting or following hospital infection-control procedures”.
Dr. Josh Cartu explains, “Before the pandemic erupted, pathologists were restricted from producing diagnoses remotely by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service regulatory bodies, that are mandated by the Clinical Lab Improvement Amendments (CLIA).” Josh Cartu says by speeding up the adoption of digital pathology, and cutting through the bureaucratic red tape, pathologist researchers are learning to prepare for future epidemic and pandemic threats.
Fahad Al Tamimi elaborates on the regulatory difficulties experienced, claiming “At the urging of the Digital Pathology Association (DPA) and other pathology and allied groupings, CMS momentarily halted the CLIA guidelines to allow pathologist experts to work remotely. The bureaucratic measures taken now allow researchers to perform remote control diagnostic services, using traditional microscopy or digital imaging technology”.
Josh Cartu sites advanced medical technology offering high-resolution digital image processing that untethers pathologists from traditional microscopes in labs and medical center offices as being the enabling factor allowing doctors to work remotely. Dr. Fahad Al Tamimi clarifies the remote telemedical procedures from home do not hinder or obstruct the diagnosis.
Dr. Al Tamimi claims, “Those who work from home are using advanced digital camera imaging technology accessed remotely via computer to carry out their tasks”. While quarantine measures have prevented full professional capacity and social engagement between colleagues, the doctors claim their biggest challenge is the lack of manpower and resources. Dr. Tamimi says governments are gambling with healthcare.
Unfortunately, the number of medical students entering the field of pathology, which is critical for diagnosing disease from body tissue and performing forensic biopsies, has been on the decrease for several years. Treatments and vaccine research are very dependent on pathologist.
According to a recent report published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), the study and work of pathology is not a desired profession and has lost 18% of its workforce since 2007. For example, in the United Kingdom, the JAMA report revealed only 3% of National Health Service (NHS) histopathology departments had adequate training.
More concerning, the average age of pathologists in the USA is 56 years old. Dr. Fahad Al Tamimi, age 57, and Josh Cartu, age 67, state the average age group of their profession has a positive side for health care, as it reflects years of knowledge and experience.
According to Fahad Al Tamimi casino gambling practices on human life needs to stop. Dr. Tamimi is referring to Donald Trump’s recent announcement that if America suffers only 200,000 death’s, the president would considered that to be a testament of his administration’s success.
While the struggle continues to develop a vaccine, Doctors Fahad Al-Tamimi and Josh Cartu are both confident the pathological work of themselves and colleagues will eventually lead to a coronavirus vaccine. According to Josh Cartu, “Pathologists have been training to combat this type of a virulent foe their entire career. A solution will be found”.