How we study and diagnose disease at Sambhavna

At Sambhavna, our priority is to treat the person, and this begins with respect and kindness. So many of the people who come to our clinic still, after nearly 27 years, have not seen anyone with specialist knowledge of how to treat the effects of the gas or the water contamination. Many have been wrongfully and often dangerously prescribed pharmaceutical drugs; many have been treated appallingly by staff in government hospitals and recently our worst suspicions were confirmed: the very hospital that was set up to treat those affected by the gas had been testing various pharmaceuticals on survivors without their knowledge or permission, more on the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust here.

We’ve been studying, testing, diagnosing, discussing and refining our treatments since we opened in 1996. We’ve identified common symptom complexes among the gas and water-affected in Bhopal and we treat with a combination of western medicine and ayurveda. What follows is a description of the pathology operation at our clinic. We welcome your comments and questions – please do get in touch.

Clinical pathology is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on labo analysis of bodily fluids such as blood, urine and tissues using microbiology, hematology and molecular pathology. Our pathologists have developed their own best practice and work closely with our allopathic and ayurvedic doctors to ensure accuracy and best use of the tests and our laboratory is a state of the art, temperature controlled, carefully-monitored facility.

Besides the generic instruments that most path labs have, there are about 15 apparatus in Sambhavna Clinic’s pathology lab for microbiological, cytological, biochemical and clinical pathology tests. These include microscopes, a centrifuge, an autoclave, a water bath, a cell counter, an inoculating hood, a distillation plant, an electronic weighing machine, a needle incinerator, a colorimeter, a steriliser and a manual cell counter.

Our new equipment

Over the last year, we have bought new instruments in order to produce  better results. To begin with, we bought new Olympus microscopes to make viewing specimens an easier task. In addition, we bought an ELISA strip reader. These help us to determine the various diseases that a patient may have and how their immune system is reacting. Next, we bought hormone test machines in order to measure the amounts of thyroid hormones T3, T4 and TSH. With these readings, we can analyse a patient’s metabolism. We also bought protein-analysing machines which can help determine levels and find traces of micro albumin, HBA1C and CRP. Most importantly, we updated our computers and UPS systems in order to prevent unwanted results from electrical spikes and keep machines running when we lose power.

With this new equipment, we can perform more investigation in the lab, rather than relying solely on outside sources. With the ELISA strip, we will be able to get an idea about a person’s hormones, bacterial antigens and antibodies. Also, we won’t have to rely as much on outside sources to cross-check results because the ELISA test strip is extremely sensitive and accurate.

The tests we do ‘in-house’

The most common tests that we do include hematological and biochemical tests; this is because they are relatively inexpensive to conduct and can determine a spectrum of diseases.

Most investigations conducted in the pathology lab are categorised as follows:

1. Hematological Test

Hematology is the study of blood, blood forming organs, the blood diseases and composition.

A. Tests related to blood deficiency: Hb, Ps for comments, reti count, PCV, MCV, MCH, MCHC, RBCs count, Sickle cell test, TLC, DLC, ESR, Absolute Eosinophil count.

2. Biochemical tests

These tests involve measuring the amounts of substances in the body through any kind of body fluid, but mostly on serum or plasma.

A. Heart-related: (lipid profile-CHO, HDL, TRIG, LDL, and VLDL)
B.
Anus-related test: (renal profile – urea, creatinine)
C.
Liver tests: (LFTs- bilirubin)
D.
Blood sugar: (sugar profile- FBS, PPBS, GTT)
E.
Joint pain: (S calcium, S uric acid)

3. Serological tests

Serology is the study of blood serum and other bodily fluids.

A. Typhoid culture: (S. Widal)
B.
Shiphlis: (S. VDRL)
C.
Tests for joint pain: ( S. RD Factor)

4. Microbiological tests

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, which are microscopic, unicellular, and cell-cluster organisms.

A. Pus culture
B.
Culture of infectious throat
C.
Culture of phlegm
D.
Vaginal culture
E.
Urine culture
F.
Stool culture
G.
Blood culture

5. Cytological tests

Cytology, also known as cell biology, is a life science that focuses on cell structure, cell composition and interaction with other cells in a larger environment.

A. Cancer of uterus: (Pap smear)
B.
Vaginal infection: (VAG smear)

6. Other clinical investigations also conducted at Sambhavna

A. Urine test: (microscopic, albumin, sugar, acetone, pregnancy)
B.
Stool test: (ova, cyst, worms)
C.
Test of phlegm: (sputum for AFB)
D.
Semen test: (Semen Analysis)
E.
G6PD
F.
MT: (Mantoux test)

In various cases, specific tests cannot be performed at Sambhavna to cross-check results, eliminating any false positives. As a result, it is a must to execute these tests outside the clinic. Tests which are conducted outside the clinic include, but aren’t limited to, thyroid abnormalities, electrophoresis, CRP testing, levels of various serum protein and levels of various hormones. Testing outside the clinic is sponsored by Thyrocare.

Some specialties of our pathology (why we are different from others)

Unlike other pathology labs, we inform people of various precautions of tests in order to yield better results. For example, we ask people not to eat anything before a test where necessary and inform them of the benefits of taking a test at a specific time of day. Results are cross-checked with doctors to avoid false positives.

At Sambhavna, we invest mainly in affordable and reliable testing that meets or exceeds the standard. This is achieved by performing specific investigations on respective days. The pathologists at Sambhavna do not limit themselves to what they are told to look for. They perform thorough examinations on various specimens. For example, if a patient arrives for malaria testing and examinations find other abnormalities, our pathologists will inform our doctors about their findings. (This conduct is not the same as performing unnecessary investigations on the patients.)

Photos: Mahendra (pathology registration), Shabnum and Mahendra discussing test outcomes, Shabnum collecting blood, Shri innoculating a sample in the innoculation hood.

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.