The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) is in process of replacing the Cath lab equipment at the Government General Hospital. The equipment, which costs around Rs. 4 crore, is among the expensive equipment at the hospital and is used extensively.

It is used to identify patients with coronary artery diseases, who may need angiogram, or those diagnosed with congenital heart problems and determine pressure in the heart's chambers.

Helps check anatomy

It also helps check the anatomy and decide whether the heart can withstand surgery besides helping to correct congenital valve diseases and rheumatic heart diseases.

“The machine is so overworked that though it is under annual maintenance contract, spare parts are difficult to procure. They have to be taken from another machine,” said the hospital Dean J. Mohanasundaram.

Equipment classified

The TNMSC classifies equipment into three categories. Expensive equipment such as the MRI, the CT scan and the Cath lab fall under the A category and is maintained by the supplier through annual contracts. Equipment such as ventilators is classified as B category and their repair and maintenance comes under the purview of the hospital dean. Equipment such as respiratory pump used in surgery is classified as C category. A senior TNMSC official said about 40,000 machines fell under the C category.

Modalities

Currently the TNMSC depends on the Heads of Departments and the Deans to provide information about the status of the equipment. But soon, this may change as the government is working out modalities to recruit specially qualified personnel to maintain the equipment.

In the absence of biomedical engineers, the heads of departments in government hospitals now send complaints to the TNMSC by e-mail or as text messages. At present the hospitals depend on electrical and electronic engineers to maintain equipment.

“The dean of a hospital has the powers to authorise work to set right minor mechanical repairs, make adjustments or replace the spares, serious technical problems are referred to the Corporation. A qualified biomedical engineer would be able to monitor the functioning of the machines and the technical details,” said K. Gopal, director of TNMSC.

“Each major institution will have such a system. We are yet to work out the modalities (on recruitment of biomedical engineers),” he added.

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