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Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) has “temporarily delayed” some orthopedic surgeries after State Trading Organisation (STO) failed to supply lead gowns for medical staff, Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Habeeb has said today.
He said the only surgeries affected by this would be those that require real-time X-ray monitoring, and that the hospital was expecting to receive the gowns very soon.
The lead gowns, like most other medical supplies for the hospital, are purchased through the STO, said Habeeb. The STO is a public company, with more than ninety two percent shares owned by the government.
“We have ordered replacements even last year. We might get them even by tonight. STO is working on it right now,” said Habeeb.
The purpose of lead gowns is to prevent the unnecessary and frequent exposure of medical staff to radiation which can cause cancer, infertility, and birth defects. While an estimated minimum of ten gowns are usually required for a surgery, the hospital currently has only two fit for use.
An IGMH nurse who often has to assist such surgeries told Minivan News that it has now been more than two years since they started requesting for new gowns. Letters have been written informing all relevant authorities of the situation, she added.
Orthopedic surgeries are done three days a week at the hospital, she explained, and on some days more than six of these surgeries require lead gowns.
“They [the remaining usable gowns] are usually taken by the doctors, saying they are closer to the source. Some staff have panicked after finding out they are pregnant. That risk is always there. And we are concerned about the patients as well. I have never seen any patient being offered a gown here,” she continued.
She stated that when patients need urgent attention, nurses cannot ignore and refuse to attend them even with the risks. Following a decision made by the department today, they will not be attending such surgeries until gowns are provided for them.
Head of the IGMH Orthopedic Department Dr Yoosuf Shan has told ‘Haveeru‘ that a memo highlighting the department’s decision has been sent to the heads of IGMH and the Health Minister.
“Radiation exposure could cause cancer. Most nurses assisting the surgeries are women. Without lead gowns their children could be born with birth defects. So as a precautionary measure we were forced to stop some of surgeries. They will continue only after we received lead gown,” Dr Shan was quoted as saying.
IGMH could not identify the exact reason for the delay in acquiring the gowns and the STO was unable to put Minivan News in touch with the relevant person.
Last November STO stopped supplying medicine to IGMH after it reached a set credit limit. At the time STO managing director Shahid Ali told local media that the Hospital had to pay approximately MVR 200 million to the organisation.
Following the failure of other state owned company’s to pay almost US$40 million in bills owed to the STO, President Abdulla Yameen declared the organisation bankrupt last November. The company subsequently launched a campaign to cut operational costs by MVR50 million in 2014 (US$ 3,242,542).