Doctor hired for ultrasounds at Bathinda civil hospital lacks qualification
Patients at government health centres across Bathinda and Mansa districts are dependent on the Bathinda civil hospital for ultrasound diagnosis.
A private medical practitioner without the required qualifications has been conducting ultrasound tests not only for pregnancies but serious ailments, too, at the Bathinda civil hospital for over a year now.
She returns home every evening with around ₹4,000 in her kitty, conducting at least 10 ultrasounds as an “empanelled radiologist” getting ₹400 per diagnosis as commission from the government hospital.
In the face of severe shortage of radiologists at government health centres across Punjab, the state health department allowed to empanel radiologists within the 2014 rules under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (or PNDT) Act.
The radiologist in question, Dr Harjit Kaur Kler, has an MBBS degree with no specialisation in radiology and runs a clinic-cum-diagnostic centre at Bhucho nearby. She has not undergone a six-month training in ultrasound testing that is mandatory for any doctor to conduct such a diagnosis under the statutory rules.
The amended rules for the mandatory six-month training for a general medical practitioners was introduced in 2014, keeping in mind the shortage of radiologists in the state.
Bathinda civil surgeon HN Singh not explain Dr Kler’s appointment. Acknowledging “a technical flaw”, he told HT, “The district’s appropriate authority before me here had issued her the letter to work as the ‘operating doctor’ as she is already running her own ultrasound centre (at Bhucho) and holds experience. What can I say?” Since Dr Singh passed the buck to his predecessor, Dr Raghbir Singh Randhawa, who is now retired, HT contacted him too; he said, “Let the present civil surgeon look into the matter now, and I will reply only if the authorities question me officially.”
Patients at government health centres across Bathinda and Mansa districts are dependent on the Bathinda civil hospital for ultrasound diagnosis, as HT had earlier reported, because none of the government centres in a 50-km radius of Bathinda has a functional ultrasound machine.
The official communique in the possession of HT, by which Dr Randhawa empanelled Dr Kler, has a catch. Dated March 9, 2017, the orders addressed to the senior medical officer (SMO) of the hospital state that Dr Kler is given permission to work as an “operating doctor” for three hours a day “on the condition that she fulfils the required sections” of the Act.
Dr Kler, when contacted, said she had done a “crash course from Agra” in 1997 which was for 15 days. “I have a long experience in ultrasound,” she stressed. She did not reply to a pointed query on the mandatory six-month training from a statutory medical college for a non-radiologist to conduct ultrasound as per PNDT Act rules.