Thousand Patients on a Waiting List

Due to the malfunctioning of the magnetic resonance scanner in the Cantonal Hospital Zenica, a number of patients have been put on a waiting list. Repair of the machine will take months. Meanwhile patients have to repeat testing and bear additional costs.

The magnetic resonance scanner (MRI) at the Cantonal Hospital Zenica has been out of commission since this May, causing delays to thousands of patients’ exams.

Ekrem Ramić from Visoko has been waiting for two years for a spinal scan at the hospital. In 2015, another malfunction meant the scanner was out of commission for three months. Ramić was told that all exam appointments had been postponed because of the malfunction.

Ramić said that, even after a year’s wait, hospital staff told him that he would need yet another round of exams and another referral in order to schedule a new MRI appointment. Thus, scheduling a new appointment for this September took several trips from Visoko to Zenica.

“If I had at least done it, I wouldn’t mind all that travel,” said Ramić.

The Cantonal hospital officials say that repair has been ongoing without saying when will it be done. Last year it took three months because of “the complicated procedure of the public procurement of spare parts and public procurement of scanner maintenance”.

Apart from malfunctions at the MRI scanner, Zenica hospital is also struggling with cardiac ultrasound machine that was out of commission for five months last year causing long waiting lists.

In the beginning of this year, the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) wrote about waiting lists for cardiac ultrasound in Zenica Cantonal Hospital. An investigation revealed that it might take more than a year to schedule an appointment while some patients are never called. Some 750 patients waited to do this exam at the end of last year.

Health on a Waiting List
Patients in Cantonal Hospital Zenica typically must wait more than a year for cardiac ultrasounds.

Ramić has waited not only for the MRI scan but also for a cardiac scan for more than a year. He scheduled a doctor’s appointment last July and so far has not been contacted by the hospital.

Ramić suffers from high pressure and labored breathing. He walks with difficulty and gets tired fast.

“Frankly, it’s worse and worse, from one day to another”, he told CIN reporters.

Deputy director for medical affairs at the Cantonal Hospital Zenica, Harun Hodžić, earlier told CIN reporters that his priority are emergency patients.

Hodžić sad that hospital staff decide on priority patients through internal consultation and those with life threatening symptoms are treated first.

Currently, emergency patients are sent for MRI to the Clinical Center in Sarajevo. The plan is to work in two shifts after scanner is repaired to cut down the waiting list. The patients will be admitted for an exam via telephone in accordance with a waiting list, say the hospital officials.

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