30 June 2011
By, Umesh Isalkar
1. Fraternity says the sealing of ultrasound machines over minor violations like an incomplete form f is not necessary
2. most feel undue harassment may halt obstetric ultrasound scans
With state officials and the civic body taking the drive against sex selection several notches higher, radiologists practising in the city are in a flutter. Sealing of sonography machines for the slightest violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act 1994 in surprise raids has upset them.
“Officials are sealing machines for a slight violation of norms. It has raised anxiety levels among city-based radiologists," Meenakshi Gajbhiye, president of Indian Radiology and Imaging Association (IRIA), Pune Chapter, said.
Filling of Form F is an absolute must and ultra sound centres should also keep a booklet of the PCPNDT Act. According to section 17.3 of the act, every sonologist must fill Form F before conducting an ultrasound.
The form has 19 questions related to the name and address of the woman and more importantly the reason for conducting the sonography, along with other details of the patient. Every ultrasound clinic is required to submit Form F to the appropriate state authority by the fifth of every month. Clinics should keep a record of Form F with them for three years.
However, an incomplete Form F makes for 90 % of violation of the norms as form filling is the first step in the act to prevent sex determination. "However, an incomplete form is not conclusive proof that sex determination is being done," Gajbhiye said. Usually, it takes a sting operation like Tuesday's at the clinic in Sadashiv Peth, to prove it. Some doctors also install a device that records all the tests in a machine.
Gajbhiye said that officials seal the machines if they find that the Form F is incomplete. Many patients forget to fill in small details like her address which is treated as an incomplete form. "The case should be handed over to the advisory committee. The owner of the machine should be issued a warning letter that if sex determination is proved, a criminal case will be filed. This will ensure that those following professional ethics will not suffer," Gajbhiye added.
"The current crackdown in which a machine is being sealed for the slightest violation of the norms is not correct. Authorities should allow some time to take corrective measures to rectify the lacunae. If a diagnostic centre or a hospital is regularly not following the norms, then strict action should be taken," radiologist Amit Kharat said.
Ultrasound scans of pregnant women are just about 40% of any sonography clinic's work and scans for other conditions, including breast cancer and diseases of liver and kidneys are also done, Kharat said.
"The government must not put all radiologists in the same basket. They must be able to differentiate between those who are committing the crime and those who practice within the framework of the act. There must be no harassment of those who follow the law," he added.
The state's child sex ratio has plummeted from 913 as per the 2001 Census to 883 in the 2011 Census. Experts have said that easy access to ultrasound scans that can reveal the sex of the unborn child could be one of the causes for rampant sex-determination and sex-selection practices.
The state had organised a State Supervisory Board Meeting to review the implementation of the act in the nine districts of Marathwada region which recorded a decline in child sex ratio.
The government is looking at the possibility of discouraging stand-alone sonography clinics. Another proposal sought to restrict a radiologist's postings to two in a district. Other radiologists said the government should study abortion trends more carefully.
- The 200-member city chapter of IRIA has organised an orientation workshop of radiologists on the provisions of PCPNDT Act at B J Medical College on July 13. "The workshop will tell radiologists about the provisions. The workshop will focus on filling Form F correctly without leaving any columns incomplete," said Meenakshi Gajbhiye, president of Indian Radiology and Imaging Association
- The state chapter of Indian Radiological and Imaging Association has written to the health department to protest against the perception about ultrasonography scans