Special squads of the Health Department, which conducted inspections in laboratories, dental clinics, x-ray units, and scan centres in the private sector in the district on Thursday, has issued temporary closure notices to 13 labs, three scan centres, and three x-ray units for serious violations, including quality issues and lack of valid licences.

As many as 35 institutions have been issued notices on various counts, including not keeping proper records and improper waste disposal facilities.

The inspections were carried out as part of the SAFE initiative of the district health administration, which had been launched as part of preventing infectious diseases. The district administration had in July carried out a similar inspection in the district following the suspicion that unhygienic practices in labs and dental clinics had a role in the large number of Hepatitis B cases being reported in the district every month.

Officials had found that only eight of the 127 labs examined in the district were doing quality-control tests.

Over 10 labs were found to be using reagents (a substance or mixture for use in chemical analysis or other reactions), test kits, and other chemicals which were past the expiry date, raising serious questions about the accuracy and validity of the diagnostic tests being conducted by many private labs in the district.

As many as 22 teams, including doctors and field-level staff of the Health Department, inspected 127 private labs, 12 x-ray units, five scan centres, 12 dental hospitals, and eight dental clinics in the district.

Officials found that many persons engaged in private labs did not have the requisite qualification and that many unrecognised scan centres and x-rays units continued to operate in the district.

Several labs had no waste-management facilities and in two laboratories, a dental clinic, and hospital, the equipment used were not being sterilised and many institutions did not possess the necessary licence from the local self-government institutions.

Radiation safety

Seven x-ray units were found to be functioning without the recognition of the Department of Radiation Safety.

Officials said the functioning of many labs in the district had improved after the officials conducted the first inspection and that Hepatitis B cases too had come down by half since then.

The raids were led by District Medical Officer T. Peethambaran; District Health Officer (Rural) P.K. Raku; District Reproductive and Child Health Officer Vasantha Kumari; and other senior doctors and field staff.