San Francisco General Hospital Lacks Funding, Permits To Install New X-Ray Machines
San Francisco General Hospital continues to use X-ray machines that are nearly 30 years old because it does not have funding available to pay for the installation of new X-ray machines and has not obtained the necessary permits, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Records show that the city bought four X-ray machines at $549,000 each in 1998 and that the hospital took possession of the equipment in 2001. Dr. Ernest Ring, the hospital's chief of radiology, said that the equipment currently in use should be replaced, adding, "It's a problem getting things installed here in a timely fashion. Why it happens is not entirely clear to me." Dr. Mitch Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said, "It comes down to money and priorities." He said that his department hopes to have the X-ray machines installed by the end of 2004. San Francisco General administrators say they hope to install a separate chest X-ray machine by spring 2005, provided they can secure $60,000 for installation and a state permit.
Radiology technologists at the hospital cited old equipment as a reason for a two-day sick out by the department's 36 staff members last month. Technologist Becky Perkins said that X-rays frequently have to be repeated because they are not clear, increasing personnel workloads and patients' exposure to radiation. Katz said he questions the accuracy of some estimates of how many X-rays have to be redone, adding that the machines currently in use "are still functional, but it would be better to have new ones" (Matier/Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.