SKIMS PET scan draws criticism for high price, limited operations

SKIMS PET scan draws criticism for high price, limited operations
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Juanid Manzoor

SRINAGAR: The Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan that was made functional at SKIMS some time back is drawing criticism from patients and attendants because of “high cost” of the scan and limited operations.
A PET scan at the institute costs Rs 14,500 and the tests are carried out only two days a week.
“In Delhi, the private clinics also charge anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15000. How does it make any difference between the private clinics and the government hospital. I am running a small grocery shop, so how come they expect me to come up with such amount. The rate should be brought down without any further delay,” a patient said.
Patients and attendants also asked the authorities to keep the facility open throughout the week in view of the rush.
“SKIMS is the only place in Kashmir where PET scan is now available. Given the rise of cancer in the region, allowing PET scan two days a week is not sufficient in any manner,” another patient said.
PET scan is used to detect cancerous cells and tissues in the body that may not always be found through computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The facility was not available in the state even though Kashmir is reporting a huge number of cancer patients off late, a doctor said, adding the patients had to go to Delhi for the mandatory test before the treatments.
A senior doctor at the hospital pleading anonymity added that there are technical glitches with the PET scan as the technicians operating it are not fully trained and have little know how of the machine.
He said the hospital authorities need to get trained and experienced technicians “as a small error can be devastating in this regard”.
The people operating the PET scan need more training, he said.
Director SKIMS Dr Omar Javed Shah, however, told Kashmir Reader that the PET scan was doing well.
“The doctors in charge of it are well experienced. The isotope required for the PET scan comes daily from Delhi, and on average we get around 10 patients for the scan. Ultimately it is in the hands of the government to bring down the price of the scan,” Dr Shah said.
“I will personally take up the issue and assure you that it will be brought down by at least 4000. If we get the cyclotron we can do 70 to 80 PET scans per day, but that is not our demand. I assure you that I will add one more day in the PET scan so that it’s carried out thrice a week. It will take some time till things are streamlined,” he said.
Asked about the expertise of people handling the scan Shah said, “There are only two doctors handling the scan but they are doing wonderful.”