The Maharashtra State branch of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) has rejected the state government notification regarding capping charges of High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) scans. They have urged the state government to revoke the decision, failing which the radiologists have threatened to move court.
The state has slashed the price of HRCT scan for Covid-19 patients by over 50 per cent, fixing it between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000.
Dr Sandeep Kavthale, president of the Maharashtra State Branch of Indian Radiological & Imaging Association (MSBIRIA), told The Indian Express that HRCT was not the diagnostic modality for Covid-19 and was an indirect test. “There are 3,800 radiologists across the state who are members of MSBIRIA and each one is agitated over this highly unjust price capping,” said Dr Kavthale.
“These rates are totally unacceptable,” said Dr Rajlakshmi Deokar, president of the Pune unit of IRIA.
The MSBIRIA has written to the state chief secretary, seeking a revocation of the decision. “ICMR never recommended HRCT – chest as a mandatary test for diagnosis of Covid-19. HRCT- chest is used to diagnose many diseases like lung infections, tuberculosis and other malignancies,” said Dr Kavthale.
While radiologists held a meeting on Friday morning to deliberate on the issue, they have told the state that they will not increase their rates.
In their letter to the state government, they wrote, “We all know this is a very tough time for all of us, including government and healthcare services. As a socially responsible entity, we had assured not to increase our charges.”
Radiologists with MSBIRIA said that they were already facing several challenges such as huge increase in overheads, increase in staff salaries and sanitisation charges, and falling number of non-Covid patients.
“The charges are definitely neither reasonable not acceptable. By implementing these charges, radiologists will be forced to incur expenses from their pocket. For instance, the cost of the tube of the machine ranges from Rs 35 to Rs 75 lakh,” pointed out the radiologists
They have further urged that the restriction on prices should be applicable to only those patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 by a RT-PCR test. This will prevent unnecessary tests that can further burden the patients’ finances, radiologists have said. Capping may even lead to some cost-saving substandard practice that ultimately affects the patients diagnosis and management, said city-based radiologists.
Capping medical services is highly unjustified, said Dr Rajlakshmi Deokar, president of the Pune unit of IRIA. “Another point is there is huge variation in types of CT machines, ranging from conventional spiral CT scanners to modern-dual source CT, so there exists a pricing variation. Charges are going to be at par with the standard and make of machines. So, a fixed rate will demoralise standard practitioners who are providing high-quality scans on high-end machines. Accurate diagnosis is critical in patient management,” she said