Katherine Hospital is set to receive a CT scanner early next year.
CT, or CAT scans, are special X-ray tests that produce cross-sectional images of the body.
CT scans can be used to diagnose everything from strokes and cancers to head injuries and blood clots.
Currently patients needing a CT scan are referred to a private imaging business in town.
“CT scans are used more often as a diagnostic tool,” a Top End Health spokeswoman said.
“Having a CT scanner on the hospital campus will enable us to better meet demand and continue to provide safe and quality care to our patients.”
A new room needs to be constructed at the hospital to accommodate the scanner.
The health department is unsure at this stage how much the scanner will cost.
“The range as per the future tender opportunity is between $5M and $10M over the proposed 5 year term,” a health department spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said a tender was expected to be released for the scanner two years ago.
“In late 2015 it was anticipated that a tender would be released to market following an investigation of infrastructure requirements to locate a CT scanner at the hospital,” the spokeswoman said.
“Specialist advice was sought regarding the site and power supply. This resulted in the relocation of staff to provide an appropriate space.
“Tender documents for an open market approach are currently being drafted.”
Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson said residents want and deserve access to high quality services.
“That’s why the Territory Labor Government is delivering a CT scanner for the Katherine Regional Hospital,” Ms Nelson said.
“Currently Katherine residents requiring the services are transported from the hospital to a private diagnostics service provider in Katherine.”
Ms Nelson said the design, construct and procurement tender is expected to be released by March this year.
“It’s hoped the service will be up and running in early 2019,” Ms Nelson said.
“I will continue to advocate on behalf of the people of Katherine to ensure they have access to high quality health services.”
In 2010 Dr Modher Al-Shawi wrote a paper on the need for a CT scanner at Katherine Hospital.
Dr Al-Shawi said patients with a head injury should be scanned no more than eight hours after the injury is inflicted.
“In rural settings, this presents significant challenges in terms of assess to diagnostic and interventional services,” Dr Al-Shawi said.
His study showed during a two month period in Katherine, seven patients were sent to Darwin for a CT scan following a traumatic head injury.
The average time between injury and scan was 27.7 hours for Katherine patients.
“All seven patients waited past the recommended maximum 8-hour mark for a CT scan,” Dr Al-Shawi said.
“The average cost to tax payers was $2,883 per patient. This can be extrapolated to a projected cost of 1.28 million dollars a year.”
Following the release of his study, a private CT provider was sourced in Katherine in 2012.
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