Junior doctors of North Bengal Dental College and Hospital have alleged that sophisticated equipment required for diagnosis and treatment have not been working for the past three months but authorities are not taking any initiative to get them fixed or repaired.
According to Apurba Mondal, a junior doctor at the hospital, an x-ray machine and two ultrasonic scalers have not been functioning for the past three months, causing inconvenience to patients and doctors.
“X-ray imaging is the most important diagnostic process as it enables doctors to see the underlying problems that are not visible to the naked eye. It is a test that we recommend to almost 80 per cent of the patients who visit the out-patient department. But it is a matter of embarrassment that the only x-ray machine in the sole-referral dental hospital of north Bengal has not been functioning for the past three months. Ultrasonic scalers are used for removing stains, plaque and calculus from the teeth,” said Mondal.
“There were two such instruments available at the hospital but both are defunct for three months now. We have requested the authorities several times to replace them, but to no avail,” he added.
The dental college was upgraded from a medical college to a hospital in January 2013. However, the hospital has only an out-patient department and there are no indoor wards for admission.
Junior doctors said around 150 patients visited the OPD every day.
“In the absence of an x-ray machine, patients who visit have to get an x-ray done at private diagnostic centres. In place of the power-driven ultrasonic scalers, we are now using hand scalers to remove plaque and calculus from teeth. This is a time-consuming process because we can treat only four to five patients using the hand scalers. With the power-driven scalers, we used to treat around 15 patients daily,” Mondal said.
Sources said the defunct machines needed to be replaced. “We don’t think they can be repaired and used again. In that case, the x-ray machine and the ultrasonic scalers have to be replaced with new ones. Funds for the purpose need to be routed through Swasthya Bhavan,” said a source.
The doctors complained that since last week, there had been no fourth grade employees at the hospital and junior doctors themselves had to remove the medical waste material from the hospital.
“There were around seven Class IV employees who used to remove medical waste like syringes, masks, cotton and gloves and clean dental chairs daily after visiting hours from different OPD rooms. But they haven’t been coming for the past one week because the contract with the private agency that engages them has ended. Under these circumstances, we have to clean the OPD rooms after duty hours,” Mondal said.
Soumen Chakraborty, the principal of the dental college, said higher officials in the state health department had been informed about the broken equipment. “The machines will be replaced and Class IV employees, too, will be appointed very soon,” Chakraborty said.