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Times Of India
5 Jun 2012

As crackdown on errant sonography centres continues, radiologists strike back to say pregnant women should only go to govt hospitals

Radiologists across the country have accused government officials of harassing them in the name of the campaign against female foeticide and have decided to stop conducting pregnancy–related sonographies.

The decision by Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA), an umbrella body of over 10,000 radiologists from across the country, has come in the wake of a spate of female foeticide cases in Beed. The doctors allege that blame for the reduced sex ratio is being unfairly pinned entirely on radiologists, who are being harassed for even the smallest of clerical errors under the Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act.

There are more than 2,500 sonography centres in the state and over 1,000 in Mumbai. A considerable chunk of patients, the radiologists say, opt for private centres as public hospitals either have a huge waiting list or the machines are under repair. "The actual culprits are far from being caught and other radiologists are being targeted by sealing machines and clinics for incomplete forms and petty clerical errors," said Dr Jignesh Thakker, general secretary, IRIA.

Meanwhile, the state is already contemplating to only allow obstetric ultrasound in public hospitals. State health minister Suresh Shetty said that a meeting is planned with all stakeholders on the issue. "One suggestion we are considering is to completely stop pregnancyrelated ultrasounds in private set–ups," he said.

Radiologists say that 15–20 per cent sonographies are pregnancy related, the rest are related to ailments like gall bladder stones, thyroid or ailments in kidney, uterus or ovaries and breasts.

"We will rather give up the few thousands we earn from obstetric ultrasounds and have a good night’s sleep," said Dr Mahavir Goel, a radiologist from Jaipur who says he has already stopped conducting the tests for the past 20 days.

Goel said just over a dozen radiologists in Rajasthan are conducting the tests. Everyone else has stopped conducting the tests for the fear of their machines or clinics being sealed.

Mumbai–based radiologist Dr Hemant Morparia said that the doctors are being harassed for silly issues. "None of these errors mean that someone is actually conducting the illegal sex determination tests," Morparia said.

31 DOCS ISSUED NOTICES
On Monday, 31 doctors from the state including two from Mumbai were served show cause notices by the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) for flouting the Pre–Conception and Pre–Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act."The public health department sent the names of these 31 doctors against whom charges have been framed. We are awaiting their reply," said Dr Shivkumar Utture, member of MMC. He added that licences of all doctors caught conducting the illegal sex tests will be suspended, while warnings will be issued to those involved in cases of minor errors.

Of the over 2,500 sonography centres across the state, Mumbai has at least 1,000. Doctors say patients opt for private centres as they are either wait–listed at public hospitals or the machines do not function

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