The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Licence leash on clinical test centres
- Minister warns of strict vigil
Surjya Kanta Mishra: Stricter rules for sonography units

Alarmed at a spurt in complaints against illegal use of ultra-sonography (USG) machines at clinical testing centres across the city, the government has framed a new set of rules for setting up and running such centres.

The health department issued directives last week to all USG operators to surrender their licences and get fresh ones. Health department officials said a licence would be issued only to units that conform to the new rules.

By the revised guidelines, a licence from the health department is mandatory for setting up a USG centre. The unit must also have qualified radiologists, technicians and trained assistants to conduct the USG. The clinical testing centres have to be spacious, with arrangements for a waiting hall, along with toilet and drinking water facilities. Separate arrangements are a must for testing male and female patients.

If a female patient is to tested by a male technician, the USG will have to be conducted in the presence of a woman, who can be either an employee of the testing centre or a relative of the patient. The equipment must be properly maintained and a logbook kept of the maintenance.

The new rules make it obligatory for the testing centres to maintain a register of the names and addresses of patients, names of the technicians who conducted the test, the organ on which the USG was conducted and the findings.

Officials from the health department will pay surprise visits to the units to check the register. The centres must be able to produce details of any particular test conducted on any patient, if required.

This apart, the testing centres will have to furnish an undertaking against gender detection of a foetus. The licence will be valid for a year and renewal will be denied in case of irregularities or if the health department directives are not followed.

The government move comes in the wake of several complaints reaching Writers’ Buildings against the illegal running of such centres. “USG is a vital test and should be conducted carefully and scientifically. We shall not let anybody make profits by playing with the lives of patients. We want to check the mushrooming of such centres,” asserted health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra.

The minister said the Clinical Establishment Rules have already been imposed and everyone would have to abide by them. “I have asked my officers to ensure that the rules are followed by all and to maintain strict vigil,’’ he added.

“We have reports that many clinical test centres have installed USG machines and conduct tests without obtaining a licence from the health department. We have also found that some centres function out of tiny rooms,’’ senior health officials said.

According to them, nearly 10,000 USG centres are functioning in and around the city and a sizeable number is running either illegally or without adhering to scientific principles. “We have issued directives to all concerned to surrender their licences and get fresh ones within a month, or face penal action and even closure,’’ an official said.

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