The Radio Diagnosis and Imaging Department of PGIMER recently got the new head, Prof MS Sandhu, who has been working in the premier health institute for more than two decades. The department, considered to be one of the busiest centres, is divided into five different radiology centres spread on the campus. The long-waiting list of patients for different tests, staff shortage and the need for strengthening the infrastructure are a few challenges before the new HoD. In conversation with Chandigarh Newsline, Sandhu outlines his plans to address these challenges.
What are your plans to cut short the long waiting lists of patients to undergo radiology tests including ultrasound, MRI, CT Scan?
We always give the priority to emergency patients. The emergency patients have no complaint about the delay in the tests. Indeed, the problem is with the Out Patient Department (OPDs), which is genuine as per the increasing number of patients everyday. Recently, PGI authorities started the process to give online appointments in all the OPDs and received very positive result. In the Radio Diagnosis and Imaging Department, we also decided to adopt the online process to give appointments to the patients for the tests. The process is under pipeline and in the first phase, online appointment system will start for MRI tests. Later, we will follow the online system for ultrasound, CT scan tests.
The process, in which tests were conducted and later reports were given to patients, is very time consuming and a normal patient has to wait for three to five days to get his reports. Any plan to the redress this problem?
This is one of the problems, which is also being faced by emergency patients, who were always given preference to get their tests early than the OPD patients. My department is pursuing for a long time to purchase Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) technique, which is a costly affair. In PACS technique, the electronic images and reports of a patient are automatically transmitted to all the concerned doctors and it will eliminate the manually collection of reports from the lab counters. Reports will be available online. People would not need to run from one counter to another for the collection of reports. This system costs around Rs 75 crore, which is a huge amount. We are pursuing this matter with Ministry of Health aggressively. The technique is very common in European countries. My predecessor, Prof. N. Khandelwal, was also very keen for this technique.
PGIMER is facing the problem of acute staff shortage. Many junior resident (JR) and senior resident (SR) doctors attached with several departments including your own are leaving PGI within a short period of their joining. What do you say on this?
PGIMER is not the only institute, which faces this problem. Even doctors working in higher institutes including AIIMS used to go somewhere else when they get better opportunity. In our institute, a number of doctors are from far away states including southern states, North-East and when they get chance to go to near their native states, they always prefer. Workload and stress is also a reason. Despite all these odds, our institute is delivering its best. Currently, we have 23 posts of Senior Resident (SR) doctors and our director, Dr Jagat Ram, assured me to increase the strength. We can not stop a person, who want to leave the institute. Our institute also offers them best salary package. For the speedy recruitment and filling the vacant posts in a fast manner, we are holding walk-in-interview for the eligible candidates. We have also cut short the formalities in the appointment process of JR and SR doctors.
What are the special techniques in your department, for which PGIMER is known for across the country?
Cryoablation and Irreversible Electroporation (IRE) are two techniques, which can make our department separate to other departments of all premier health institute in India. Cryoablation technique is a process to use kill cancer tissues with hollow needles, through which cooled fluids are circulated. Irreversible Electroporation is a technique used for the treatment of tumor, gene therapy and cell based therapy. At PGIMER, we have treated 50 patients last month through Irreversible Electroporation technique. Only one more machine is available in India which is in Tata Memorial Bombay hospital but they are yet to start cases there.
What is the current status of infrastructure in Radio Diagnosis and Imaging department? What are the plans to improve the infrastructure?
Recently, we installed an MRI machine in the emergency ward of PGIMER. We have total five MRI machines installed in Advance Trauma Centre, Emergency Ward, OPDs and Advanced Pediatric Center. We have planned to increase the infrastructure with the purchase of new machineries and also with recruitment of new technicians in the coming time. Shortly, technicians were hired for our department. We are planning to provide CT scan machines in all the important