Govt Sets Standards For Accreditation Of Diagnostic Centres
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24 May 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Just about a month after a deadly radiation leak at Delhi’s Mayapuri, accreditation standards for diagnostic centres that provide imaging services across the country were released in Mumbai on Saturday. Though it will not be mandatory for centres, which use equipment that emit radiation, to get such accreditation, but such a stamp would be indicative of their safety standards and quality of operations.
The Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body set up by the Union government, has come up with specific guidelines by which your neighbourhood diagnostic or imaging centre can now get accreditation, just like for hospitals and laboratories. Experts say accreditation is the need of the hour as stand–alone diagnostic centres offer facilities like Xray, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, nuclear imaging and so on. Such centres have been mushrooming without any set standards or monitoring.
Industry observers believe that Mumbai, particularly, has seen an overwhelming number of centres springing up in nooks and corners without proper safety structures. "Not many of these centres have appropriate safety measures to ensure that harmful rays like gamma and high–frequency soundwaves do not escape into the environment,’’ said Dr Kishor Taori, president, Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA).
Professor of radiology Dr Poonam Narang said that the guidelines strictly lay down basic infrastructural requirements, like a nine–inch thick wall or proper LED lining in a centre dealing with radioactive rays. "Many centres just put up black curtains thinking they can protect their staffers from the rays,’’ she added. "Also, few centres have qualified technicians who know exactly how much radiation a patient can be exposed to, or to decide that a patient cannot be subjected to X–ray beyond a certain number of times,’’ she added.
Centres willing to get accredited will have to shell out anything between Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 depending upon the modality and variety of facilities available. "There will be surprise visits to ensure that quality norms are adhered to and hazardous substances are handled and disposed of with appropriate care,’’ said Dr Girdhar Gyani, secretary general, QCI.
However, it is not mandatory for diagnostic centres to go for accreditation. "As of now, it is not compulsory. But with talks of medical insurance providers allowing only accredited centres in their panel, imaging centres will automatically have to seek accreditation,’’ said Gyani. "Also, people should seek services only from accredited centres.’’
These norms aim to achieve what the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has so far failed to do for want of manpower. The QCI, while providing accreditation, will ensure that diagnostic centres follow the law of prohibition of sex selection. "Any accredited centre will automatically be labelled as one that does not practise illegal sex determination,’’ said Gyani.