THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is one news that could add to the frustration of patients. X-ray units at several government hospitals are operating without the mandatory licence/registration from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
It was in the action-taken report submitted to the Assembly Committee on Public Accounts that the Health Department acknowledged “most hospitals under it are functioning without licence/registration from AERB and not even a site approval certificate from Directorate of Radiation Safety (DRS)-Kerala.”
Which is “highly illegal and may be viewed seriously in radiation safety point of view.” Committee chairman V D Satheesan said: “This is something serious. Though the department informed us that many changes have happened, we didn’t find them foolproof. Thus we decided to mention it in our report.”
“Let us see if a periodical observation is possible on the matter,” he added. As per Rule 3 of Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules 2004, licence/registration is mandatory for the operation of all radiation-generating units including X-ray units.
The absence of licence/registration might be a case of laxity from those concerned in ensuring timely updating of data at the AERB’s e-Licensing system (e-LORA). The X-ray units at government hospitals are operating as per AERB guidelines and the safety of patients, as well as the technicians, are not at stake.
At another instance, the report states that while private and cooperative institutions are coming under the purview of penal action including fine, penalty, power disconnection and provisional closure, the relevant government order spares state-run institutions.
This has naturally fuelled the negligence of hospital authorities. Indian Radiological and Imaging Association state president Dr Mohanan K said: “It’s a reality the technicians manning the X-ray units weren’t being provided with the Thermo Luminescence Dosimeter (TLD) film badges, that indicates levels of exposure to radiation.”
According to him, the absence of the same might increase the chances of patients and technicians being exposed to more than permissible radiation levels. Meanwhile, Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) president Dr A K Rauf said the X-ray diagnosis at the government sector itself is flawed as radiologists and radiotherapists are considered the same. According to him, though the two are different specialities, the Special Rules 2010 considered it as the same and mutual transfers are being made.