Now, free hepatitis, HIV tests patients at govt centres

This comes months after what it claims is a goof-up done by two private diagnostic labs while providing reports of patients. Representative Photo/Pixabay

The department of health and family welfare is set to provide certain tests free of cost for patients on dialysis.

This comes months after what it claims is a goof-up done by two private diagnostic labs while providing reports of patients.

The labs reportedly gave botched up Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) reports of patients on dialysis.

In an incident that came to light late, reports of nine patients given by private labs said they tested negative for HCV. However, when the patients started showing symptoms, they were tested again in government labs, where they were tested positive for HCV, department officials said.

The reports pertain to tests conducted in March this year — in K R Nagar (Mysuru district) and Magadi (Ramanagar district). Dr Selvaraj, deputy director, medical, department of health and family welfare, said the department was in the process of taking action against the labs under the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act.

Pankaj Kumar Pandey, commissioner of the department, has issued a circular,  citing that ELISA test for HCV, HIV and HBV will be made available in district hospitals for all patients on dialysis free of cost.

Dr Selvaraj told DH, “Patients on dialysis have low immunity levels and are at risk of contracting these infections. It could be life-threatening. Karnataka is the first state to offer dialysis free of cost to all patients, irrespective of their economic status.”

“In rural areas, poor patients cannot always afford the best of tests. They spend anywhere between Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000 for the tests in private labs. They do not have the understanding to check for approvals given to these labs. They cannot be blamed,” he said.

Henceforth, ELISA test for the three infections will also be made available free of cost for all patients on dialysis in district hospitals. “We have dialysis centres in several areas across the State. However, only district hospitals have the facility to do the ELISA test. We have offered to make arrangements to transport blood samples to district hospitals free of cost,” said Selvaraj.

The circular mandates that samples of patients undergoing dialysis in government-run centres, functioning on a PPP model, must be sent at least once in three months
for tests.

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