ANANTNAG: South Kashmir’s district Anantnag, the second most-populated district in Kashmir Valley, only has two radiologists available for all kinds of radio diagnosis.
Out of around 20 district and sub-district hospitals, and new-type PHCs operating in the district round the clock, only Afzal Beg District Hospital and Sub-District Hospital Dooru have radiologists—one each.
The all other hospitals, including a Maternity and Child Hospital (MCH), four Sub-District Hospitals, and 14 Public health Centres, that operate round the clock in different medical blocks of the district do not have a radiologist.
In these hospitals, the paramedics and medicos with additional diploma do the medical tests, such as ultrasonography (USG), that only a radiologist should do.
For instance, at the most crowded maternity hospital catering to patients from the entire south Kashmir and also from parts of Jammu, the USG is done by X-ray technician.
“Dozens of normal deliveries and C-sections are conducted in the hospital every day and it is these X-ray technicians who do the patients’ USG. Their inaccurate reports are a reason for high rate of referrals from the hospital,” insiders in the hospital said.
Many patients referred from the hospital to other facilities on the basis of complications shown in inaccurate USG reports later deliver normally in Lal Ded maternity hospital or in private nursing homes, they said.
“It is ironical that such a big maternity hospital is without a radiologist whose presence could avoid such potentially-fatal errors. A specialist’s job is being done by paramedics or technicians here,” a doctor posted at the hospital said.
The patients in other hospitals complain about inaccuracies in the USG reports prepared by makeshift specialists or paramedics.
“Few months ago, I took my mother to SDH Bijbehara after she complained of abdominal pain. After her examination, a doctor recommended USG, which was done at the hospital itself. But much to our shock, the report suggested some major complications that made us shift her to SKIMS, Srinagar. But when the test was repeated there, she was not found to have any complications,” Arshad Ahmad, a resident of Bijbehara, said.
A top Health department official posted in the district admitted that the lives of people were at risk.
“Only a radiologist should do USGs. The authorities are playing with the lives of people by assigning this job to under-qualified medicos or technicians,” the official said, preferring anonymity.
“The district health authorities wrote to the higher-ups about the situation several times, but nothing was done,” he said.
Director health services, Kashmir, Dr Sameer Matoo, admitted that they have only two radiologists in the district, but he claims that other doctors and paramedics have been trained to do the job.
“We give few months training to doctors and paramedics, who later conduct USGs in hospitals,” the director told Kashmir Reader.
Asked why the major maternity hospital in the district is without a radiologist, he said: “We depute a radiologist from the District Hospital to MCH on certain days.”