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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Medical gadgets a boon, but use with care

Anubhuti Matta and Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times  New Delhi/Mumbai, July 08, 2013
First Published: 01:16 IST(8/7/2013) | Last Updated: 02:45 IST(8/7/2013)

For Nupura Hautamaki, her insulin pump has been her lifeline ever since she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of six. 

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To maintain insulin levels in her blood, Hautamaki had to keep injecting small levels of the hormone with the help of the pump. Now 36 years old, Hautamaki had bought a Roche Accu-Chek insulin pump for Rs. 2.5 lakh in 2009. The gadget came with a six-year guarantee. In its fourth year, the buttons on the rubber covering started coming off, exposing mechanical parts underneath.

She lodged a complaint with the headquarters of the firm but she was told there was no mechanism to replace or repair the machine. In the meantime, the display of the machine also became dysfunctional.

She decided to call the national head of the company, but he did not come to the phone. “Junior representatives said there was nothing they could do,” she said. She was offered the option of replacing the pump at a seemingly sum, referred to as discount, of R1.25 lakh. “I finally had to talk to the global head. I sent him an e-mail and my matter was immediately looked into. It paid off as I received a new pump,” says Hautamaki.

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 “Officials there told me that a new model of the pump has been launched, addressing the problem of buttons breaking often,” Hautamaki said.Officials at the company headquarters did not respond to e-mails by HT, requesting for their side of the story.

Hautamaki’s story shows that while faults in your mobile phone or PSP can wait to be rectified, a non-functioning health gadget can spell trouble for your life.

Vivek Khemka, an advocate with the Bombay high court, says that the best option is to write to the company first for a repair or replacement because matters there will be taken up much faster than a consumer court.

“If a gadget is under warranty, a consumer should not delay writing about it to a company because they can get repairs done free of cost. If there is no response from the company concerned, then the consumer court can be moved,” he said.

Health experts too sound a note of caution. “These instruments have proved to be a boon for patients who otherwise would need to make frequent visits to laboratories to get blood pressure reading or blood glucose testing done.

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However, there are precautions that one needs to take to be able to have error-free readings,” said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-DOC centre of excellence for diabetes, metabolic diseases and endocrinology.

The precautions are applicable to all medical gadgets-from a simple digital thermometer to nebulizer for asthmatics to glucometres for checking blood glucose levels in diabetics to blood pressure checking devices.

Quiz: no compromise on medical gadgets' quality

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