A new computed tomography (CT) scan machine has come as a relief for patients at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) almost three years after the previous one conked off.
The machine, inaugurated by health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey three days back, has been installed at the health hub as part of the health department’s initiative to put up 128-slice CT scanners and 1.5 tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners in medical colleges on public-private partnership mode.
Presently, none of the medical colleges has these equipment in functional condition, which forces patients to get the tests done at private diagnostic centres at high rates.
PMCH officials said almost 90 per cent of the patients admitted in critical care require diagnoses like X-Ray and CT scan.
“The rates for the scanning facility have been fixed between Rs 800 and Rs 2,200 for various body parts and types, while people have to cough up Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,800 in private centres,” said Dr O.P. Chaudhary, PMCH superintendent.
The government has entered into an agreement with a private company which will look after the operation and maintenance of the machines.
Over 100 patients at PMCH need CT scan diagnoses everyday. The absence of CT scan and MRI facilities in the 1,675-bed tertiary-care centre has led numerous diagnostic centres to flourish near medical colleges which often dupe patients.
“With the machine lying defunct, the patients either used to return home without availing of the service or visit private CT scan centres where they had to cough up exorbitant charges,” said a source in the emergency ward.
As the machine has not been working; a lot of touts were seen roaming around the emergency ward to lure patients to private diagnostic centres for tests.
“As poor patients come to PMCH, they want to get basic facilities without having to spend up much from their pockets. The emergency department, where hundreds of patients come everyday, has been in the grip of touts who take away patients for diagnosis. Sometime many patients come to the hospital for treatment with CT scan results in hand even without doctors asking for diagnosis. The situation will might change now that the equipment is now functional,” said a doctor.
The health department now plans to install an MRI machine at the hospital. Last year, State Health Society, Bihar, had cancelled the contract of the agency running the MRI machine at the hospital, citing the reason that it was not operating and maintaining the system efficiently.