Visakhapatnam: The governments of AP and Telangana are yet to set up Directorates of Radiation Safety (DRS) to inspect the X-ray equipment used for diagnosis and treatment at hospitals and diagnostic laboratories. The role of a DRS, which acts under the guidance of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), is to curb the unsafe or improper use of X-rays and to ensure that X-ray equipment is properly maintained and standard operating procedures are being followed. The failure to maintain proper standards can have hazardous effects on operators and patients.
The AERB has Regional Regulatory Centres (RRC) in Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi for the Southern, Eastern and Northern regions respectively. Because it is a herculean task for the Board to regularly inspect labs and hospitals, DRS’s have already been set up in Kerala, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Punjab. For the establishment of a DRS, the department of health and family welfare of a state has to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the AERB for the regulatory inspection of medical diagnostic X-ray equipment.
The state is responsible for ensuring that qualified manpower and infrastructure are available to carry out the inspections. The AERB is responsible for the provision of all technical support, including the arrangement of training programmes for the DRS staff. The AERB also issues appropriate authorisation for the employees of the DRS to carry out specific regulatory functions on behalf of the Board. Speaking to this paper, an official from the Chennai RRC said, “There are over 50,000 diagnostic labs in the country.
Keeping the number of X-ray facilities in mind, the AERB has initiated steps for the formation of a DRS under the department of health and family welfare department in every state. “The formation of DRS’s will ensure effective implementation of the regulations. The AERB is ready to provide the technical support, but states have to indicate their interest, as it is a joint effort.”
In the two-day inspection exercise conducted in the city by officers of the AERB, 14 X-ray centres, including some located within hospitals, were found flouting the regulations of the Board. Among them, was the X-ray centre at King George Hospital. Three X-ray units, one CT scan unit, and one mammography unit, were sealed, and warnings were issued to five other centres....