For two weeks GRH is turning away patients suffering from kidney stones as shock machine goes kaput

April 04, 2024 08:08 pm | Updated 08:08 pm IST

The ESWL unit at the Urology department in Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai.

The ESWL unit at the Urology department in Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai. | Photo Credit: MOORTHY G

Patients who were admitted to the Urology department in Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH), Madurai, to get treatment for kidney stones have been allegedly sent back due to inoperative machines dedicated to pulverising stones inside the body. ?

A 51-year-old woman who was diagnosed with kidney stone at the government medical college hospital in Sivaganga was referred to GRH as the Sivaganga GH has no facility for treating kidney stones. ?

On March 20, she was rushed in?a 108 ambulance and admitted at GRH. She was asked to undergo tests on March 28 as prerequisite for the operation. ?

“I was taken to the operation theatre the same night, but the doctors were unable to remove the stone during the operation,” she added. ?

When the patient enquired with the doctors, they replied that they were unable to remove the stone, but a stent had been inserted which would allow urine to drain around the blockage.?

“When I asked about further steps to be taken, the doctors said a machine which was meant to pulverise the stone through shock was not in a working condition so, I had to wait till the machine was repaired,” she added. ?

Doctors at GRH confirmed that the ESWL (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy) machine installed in GRH in February 2024 has not been functioning for the past two weeks. ?

The patient was asked to get discharged and stay at home until the doctors informed her about the operation date. “I refused to get discharged as I feared that I would get the pain again as the stone was still inside,” she said. ?

She added that many patients who were admitted at the urology department for the same problem were sent back owing to the faulty machine. ?

Later, on April 2, the doctors informed her that a machine had been brought from Chennai. “I was taken to the operation theatre where doctors broke the 10mm stone into two parts (7mm and 3mm),” she added. ?

But following the procedure, the doctors informed her that they were unable to break the stone further into smaller pieces. “Due to this, the doctors were unsure that the broken stone would be dissolved in the urine,” she added. ?

Now, after more than 20 days of staying in the hospital, she is set to return home but is unsure whether the stone has got dissolved, or she whether she has to undergo the procedure again. “If the stone was broken into more smaller pieces, it would have got dissolved automatically, but now it is a problem,” the patient feared.

When checking with a senior doctor about the ESWL machine, he said, since the machine was imported, none of the local experts were able to identify the problem. “So, the part which is not working has been sent to the country from where it was imported. If a glitch occurs in such imported machines which are bought for their accuracy and good performance, it takes time, sometimes a month, for the issue to get resolved,” he added. ?

Asking why the Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery (RIRS) machine was taken from Chennai, the doctor said at times when it was essential, they tended to share machines from other hospitals, and it was not an issue. ?

However, a doctor in the urology department said the RIRS in GRH was working, and it was in usable condition.

Veronica Mary, a health activist in Madurai, said, “if there is a delay in repair of machines like ESWL it will only affect the health and life of patients.”

“Also, this is not the first time it has happened, so to avoid further occurrences, the district Collector should conduct a periodical inspection of all the life saving equipment at GRH to ensure proper functioning,” she added.

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