Privately run clinics and diagnostic centres in Chittagong are rife with anomalies owing to a lack of proper monitoring. These clinics and centres often produce erroneous diagnostic reports that often lead the patients to serious health risks.
A recent mobile court drive of the Chittagong district administration revealed that a reputed private clinic of the port city was running its operating theatre with expired medicine and reagents. Moreover, the assistant radiologist of the private clinic did not have any professional experience or academic qualifications.
The errant private clinic “Medical Centre” was fined Tk1 lakh for the offence.
When contacted, manager of the clinic Shah Alam Bhuiyan told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are not the only one who got fined in this connection; there are many other clinics who had been previously fined for the same cause.”
The manager, after being repeatedly asked, refused to provide the contact details of the clinic’s Managing Director Dr Maniruzzaman.
It has been allegated that most of the diagnostic centres are poorly equipped and lack modern laboratory facilities to conduct pathological tests.
Technicians in these substandard private diagnostic centres often don’t possess the required qualifications to perform the tests properly, which can result in incomplete or inaccurate test results being filed.
Consequently, patients lose their confidence in the test results provided by the sub-standard diagnostic centres. Seeing no other option, many resort to going abroad and paying huge sums of money, which causes a loss for the Bangladesh economy.
SM Nazer Hossain, Vice President of Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh told the Dhaka Tribune that the errant clinics and diagnostic centres most often manage to get away with the offence mainly due to lax monitoring on the part of the authorities concerned.
“Scores of private clinics and pathological laboratories have sprung up like toadstools in the lanes and by-lanes of the premier port city either without obtaining a licence or without renewing it for decades. The patients cannot but crow the privately run diagnostic centres after failing to receive services from the state-run hospitals and health centres,” said Nazer.
“The malpractice in the diagnostic centres is eroding people’s confidence in healthcare services and causes the outflow of a substantial amount of foreign currency every year from the country. Exemplary punishment should be meted out to the errant diagnostic centres for deceiving people with a promise to provide healthcare services,” demanded the consumer rights official.
Pathologists warned that the causes of a disease may remain undetected due to such malpractice, and it may lead to wrong treatment, complications of diseases and even death if the disease is not diagnosed correctly.
According to Dr Mahfuzur Rahman, a veteran pathologist and owner of the diagnostic centre Dr Mahfuzur Rahman’s Lab in Chittagong city, it was a serious offence to use expired reagents.
“It is needless to say how important it is to diagnose a disease correctly. For instance, a physician may suggest to a patient that he should get his kidneys diagnosed. Now if the diagnostic test is wrong, vital organs like kidneys may get damaged seriously because of medicine intake prescribed based on the wrong diagnosis. In some cases, the wrong diagnosis of a disease may even lead a patient to death,” said Dr Rahman.
Dr Md Azizur Rahman Siddique, civil surgeon of Chittagong, told the Dhaka Tribune that the repeated mobile court drives conducted against the errant private clinics and diagnostic centres thoroughly proved that slapping fines would not do any good.
“Using expired reagents will certainly lead to incorrect test reports. Unfortunately, we often come across patients who got different results from different diagnostic centres for the same test.”
“We are going to take stern action against the errant private clinics and the diagnostic centres,” vowed the civil surgeon.
Earlier, a mobile court of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) fined four diagnostic centres and clinics of the premier port city with Tk 22 lakh on June 26, 2016.
National Hospital Chittagong (Pvt) Ltd and Max Hospital and Diagnostic Ltd in the Mehedibagh area were fined Tk6 lakh and Tk5 lakh respectively.
Besides, Epic Health Care Ltd and Popular Diagnostic Centre Ltd were fined Tk5 lakh and Tk6 lakh respectively.
During the drive, date-expired chemical reagents were found at the hospitals and diagnostic centres.
The court also found unauthorised medicine at National Hospital. At Epic, it was seen that reagents and antibiotics were not preserved by maintaining proper temperature in fridge.
On December 28, 2015, a mobile court fined four diagnostic centres with Tk17.50 lakh in total for testing diseases with expired reagents.
The errant diagnostic centres were Sensiv, Bell View, Diasonic and Lab Expert.
Dr AM Muzibul Haque, director (health) Chittagong division told the Dhaka Tribune: “It is undeniable that not all the private clinics and diagnostic centres meet the given requirements but we have some limitations too.”
“We are not authorised to directly take any action against any errant clinic. We have to send reports to Directorate General of Health Services in Dhaka with our findings and they take the action. So, the whole process takes some time.”
The director, however, told the reporter that his office is going to be more vigilant to prevent such irregularities.