Collective predicament: Allied hospitals operating sans MRI, CT scan facilities

Patient allege doctors getting a cut from test referrals to private labs.

Fawad Ali May 26, 2013
Patient allege doctors getting a cut from test referrals to private labs.


Patients visiting the allied hospitals of Rawalpindi are being forced to make do without the crucial MRI and CT scan machines.

The hospitals’ administrations have informed the health department about the issue but they are yet to be equipped with the essential machines.

An MRI system, considered the most important piece of equipment at a hospital’s neurosurgery department, is used primarily for diagnosing cases pertaining to the spinal region, lower back and head injuries.

The allied hospitals, which include the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH), District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) and Holy Family Hospital (HFH), not only cater to 4.5 million people of the district but also receive patients from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kashmir.

“Doctors in Peshawar referred me for surgery at BBH but here the MRI and CT scan machine are both out of order,”said Muhammad Sadiq, a resident of Peshawar.

He said he is forced to get MRI tests from private laboratories at exorbitant rates.

“Laboratories charge Rs12,000 for an MRI test and poor patients have no choice but to come up with the money just because of unavailability of the facility inside the hospital,” said a high official of BBH, wishing anonymity. He said these tests would cost around Rs2,500 from the hospital if the machines were functioning here.

There is a laboratories mafia which in connivance with health department officials is ensuring that these hospitals continue to be deprived of MRI and CT scan machines.

A special committee, constituted by the caretaker provincial government, had approved Rs100 million to equip the allied hospitals with MRI and CT scan machines but to no avail, claimed the hospital official.

He said the previous government ignored the needs of thousands of patients visiting these facilities on a daily basis.

The other two hospitals have the same stories. Spokesperson HFH Dr Javed Hayat said that a CT scan machine has been approved while the lone dysfunctional MRI machine cannot be repaired.

Patients at HFH alleged doctors conspire to send patients to private laboratories for test as often they are owned by them (doctors). Another official of DHQ, wishing anonymity, said it is the health department’s responsibility to provide this machinery.

“The health department has approved funds for a CT scan machine and it should be installed soon,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2013.


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