Lack of much-needed equipment in the sports injury clinic at the Government Royapettah Hospital (GRH) is making the patients registered with the facility seek treatment in private hospitals.

Many of the patients are also waiting for surgeries to treat ligament tears. The GRH is one of the few government hospitals in the city that uses arthroscope, which allows for minimally invasive procedures to treat torn ligaments or cartilage in joints such as knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, ankle, foot and hip.

Alexander, a car driver, was referred to GRH for treatment of a shoulder injury. “I came to the hospital in January but the doctor said that surgery could not be done until January 28 next year. I needed arthroscopy. The doctor said the hospital did not have the equipment. Finally I went to a private hospital in Porur as I could not bear the pain. I spent Rs.15,000 on the surgery,” he said.

Chandrasekar, who is working in a multiplex theatre complex in Royapettah, figures in the list of patients who are waiting for surgery. “I had my first surgery a few years ago and now waiting for the second operation. I have gone several times to the sports injury clinic but every time I have returned without much hope as the doctor who did the first surgery has been transferred. I earn Rs.5,000 a month and cannot afford treatment in a private hospital,” he said.

Realising that it would be futile to wait for treatment at the GRH, Nilofar, who suffered a shoulder injury, had her surgery done at a private hospital.

The sports injury clinic at GRH was started in 2007 as a sub-speciality of orthopaedics. The outpatient clinic functions every Monday and Wednesday. Authorities in the Orthopaedics department said it would take two months to repair the equipment.

T. Tholkappian, in-charge of the sports injury clinic, said: “The arthroscope equipment is under repair for the past 10 months. I have been doing a few cases with my own instrument. On an average one or two of the 10 patients who are referred to the clinic on OP days will need surgeries.” Patients requiring surgery are generally referred from other hospitals and hence incidence-wise it would be more, he added.

Hospital superintendent K. Thyagarajan said the equipment costing around Rs.3 lakh had to be replaced. The delay was because the doctor who was in charge went on long leave and only recently another surgeon had been asked to take over. “We have been doing open surgery on patients but not arthroscopy. In another 15 days we will have the new equipment,” he said.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012