By Sumiya Shah
SRINAGAR: Lack of female technicians in Electrocardiogram (ECG) section of the SMHS hospital in Srinagar is forcing many female patients to skip the diagnostic test at the hospital.
Most women take offence to male technicians undertaking the ECG, and many of them opt for private diagnostic centre where female technicians are available.
“My sister complained of chest pain, and the doctors at SMHS prescribed an ECG. She felt uncomfortable after she found a female technician was not available to carry out the ECG. We moved to Transworld Muslim University Diagnostic Centre where a female technician carries out the test,” Tariq Ahmad, a resident of Chattabal said.
The ECG is commonly used to detect abnormal heart rhythms and to investigate the cause of chest pains. It is an essential test especially for pregnant women who may have to undergo caesarean or if doctors suspect heart rate is not normal.
The test involves applying a medicated gel and placing electrodes on patient’s chest.
“It is shocking male staffers have been assigned the duty to carry out ECG tests on females. This is against the medical ethics. The privacy of the patient has to be maintained. But, here in SMHS hospital because of the dearth of female technicians, female patient are made to suffer,” Gousia, a patient said.
The ECG section of Outdoor Patient Department (OPD) has only one female assistant who is not a qualified technician.
“As there is shortage of female staff we have given her some instructions to undertake ECGs and now she is doing ECG to female patients,” an official in the ECG section said. “Her duty hours are from 10am to 4pm. After that there is no female technician in the hospital who can carry out an ECG,” he added.
Doctors at the hospital admitted that lack of female technicians was a handicap.
“This is a serious concern. Whenever I tell female patients to do an ECG or ultrasound they always show reluctance, for they are worried that they have to undress in front of a male doctor,” a doctor, wishing anonymity, said.
“The females are not only made to take off clothes in front of male technicians, but attendants as well. Keeping our society and religion into consideration, females need to be examined in complete privacy,” he said.
Consequently, he said, when the female patients are deprived of their right to privacy, they skip the diagnostics “which is an important aspect of the treatment”.
Shahista, a patient, added, “Even if you ask any female to do ECG, they will be rude to you. That is why many people prefer to do ECG at private centres because there are female technicians and soft spoken people.”
Principal GMC, Dr Kaiser Ahmad could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.