TRIHMS’ free diagnostic service under scanner

[ Bengia Ajum ]

NAHARLAGUN, 7 Aug: The free diagnostic service (FDS) being provided to patients at the TRIHMS here has come under the scanner with some of the patients complaining that they were given wrong diagnoses.

The service is being implemented by the government of India through the National Health Mission (NHM). In the state, the FDS initiative is being implemented by the NHM Arunachal through Hyderabad-based ASR Diagnostic Group.

They won the tender and an MoU was signed to provide service for five years, starting from 2019 onwards.

Recently, a few citizens took to social media, alleging that they were given wrong reports due to wrong diagnosis from the TRIHMS.

“The allegations of wrong diagnosis have become a matter of concern. Not many patients have come out openly, but these kinds of allegations keep cropping up,” said a senior doctor of the TRIHMS.

Lack of quality manpower is alleged to be one of the main reasons behind such wrong diagnoses.

“Only a few staffers are catering to the needs of so many patients. There is massive pressure on them. Such mistakes can happen due to fatigue and long working hours. Also, the lab technicians recruited are mostly newly passed and not experienced enough. The service provider needs to hire more quality people,” said a senior official of the TRIHMS.

The official further stated that the annual maintenance of equipment and other instruments in the labs is not done regularly. “The standard operating procedures for respective labs are not maintained. This leads to pre-analytical (before running test) as well as post-analytical (after running test) errors. Many of the wrong reports which happened recently were due to error on the part of the technicians,” he added.

It is also alleged that the signatories to the test reports are doctors from outside the state as digital signature is used.

“There are chances that these reports are not seen by any lab specialist or doctor physically before they are handed over,” the official added.

Also, as per the MoU signed between the service provider (ASR Pvt Ltd) and the state government, all the district hospital labs, including the TRIHMS free diagnostic lab, were supposed to ” finish the process of National Accreditation Board for Laboratories for quality standards by the third year of operation.” However, not a single lab has been accredited yet.

Meanwhile, reacting to the allegation, a senior official of the NHM said that they have not received any such official complaint. “We have an internal committee already in place in TRIHMS. They do the monitoring. There is an average of 250 people tested. If errors happen beyond the acceptable level, then it is a matter of concern. But so far there are no official written complaints from any treating physician or the TRIHMS authority,” she said.

Regarding the allegation of a wrong diagnosis being circulated on social media, she stated that “when enquired into, the story turned out to be something different.”

However, the official made it clear that “everyone needs to remain vigilant to make sure that wrong diagnosis is avoided.”

The ASR Diagnostic Group was selected to provide the service after an open tender was floated in February 2019 to start the service in the state. The FDS initiative service is available since October 2019. The service is available at district hospitals, CHCs and PHCs, and at the TRIHMS.

Most of the routine tests are done free of cost under the scheme. However, high-end tests like hormone, tumour markers, and histopathology are not included.