Mumbai: Old MRI machines overworked, new one stuck in red-tapism

Senior health official from the Public Health Department said currently only one MRI machine is functional.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Sunday, October 09, 2022, 11:46 PM IST
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MRI machine | Photo: Representative Image

Radiology departments of the civic-run hospitals are struggling with decade-old MRI machines witnessing technical snags leading to patients facing problems in getting their MRI done. However, of the two MRI machines at the King Edward Memorial and Lokmanya Tilak General Municipal Sion hospitals, only one is functioning. While the BMC was supposed to buy new machines, the proposal for which has been submitted three months back, it is stuck in red-tapism, say doctors.

Senior health official from the Public Health Department said currently only one MRI machine is functional. The machine cannot take much load as it has become old and is currently facing a technical glitch due to which patients seeking MRI have to face problems. Apart from the two machines at KEM and Sion hospitals, BYL Nair hospital has one.

“Despite having two machines only one is being used as the specification of the other needs to be scrutinised by the Central Purchase Department of the hospitals. The machines have become old and needs maintenance which is carried out only when it has some technical glitch or stops functioning. Up until that time hospital administration doesn’t think of maintaining it,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

Senior health officials from the Radiology Department said they have been complaining about the patient load they face due to the use of only one machine. However, as many as 30 to 40 people are advised MRI scans which includes in-house and OPD patients. The overworked machine is 11 years old and requires regular maintenance, they said.

“We have been requesting the BMC and hospital administration to buy new MRI machines but our pleas are going unheard. We are asked to use the old ones. They don’t seem to understand the problem we as well as the patients face. We have MRI on a public-private partnership basis. However, patients prefer to do it here because the cost is less,” he said.

Meanwhile, the KEM hospital is only performing brain CT scans as they have been facing some technical problems for the last 15 days. Moreover, they have not tied up with any laboratories where patients can be sent for other CT scans. However, in-house patients are sent to Sion hospital for CT scans.

“Being tertiary care and a trauma hospital, our MRI workload is huge. One MRI scan takes close to an hour. We try our best to accommodate all the patients, but with frequent technical snags, it is practically not possible,” said a radiologist. The waiting list for inpatients is 1-2 days if not an emergency case, he added.

An emergency meeting on the purchase of MRI machines was held at the BMC headquarters last week with the Additional Municipal Commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar.

“The purchase was supposed to be finalized in 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the entire healthcare machinery was diverted towards its management. Also, last time, we had asked for a 1.5 tesla MRI machine, but no vendor came forward. This time we are going for the advanced 3 tesla MRI machine. The process is being held-up due to red-tapism. We do not expect the machines to be installed before the next six-seven months,” said a senior radiologist.

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