By Vidya Ranade/Dipti Barve
Our reporter posed as a patient with a doctor’s prescription and went to a pathology lab for a routine microscopic urine check. The lab technician then asked for urine samples and told our reporter to come back in three hours for the report. For Rs. 40, the lab in–charge gave a report that was printed in the lab with an illegal digital signature of the pathologist MD, who was nowhere near the lab.
For and against: The pathology lab debate
The issue raised by MD pathologist in Maharashtra particularly in Pune, has been a controversy for long now. Pune Mirror interviewed some post graduate diploma holders in medical laboratory technology and this is what they had to say
Technical in remote areas can’t come to meet city MDS
“I have no problems as I have appointed a consultant pathologist to verify and sign our reports. Pathologist don’t visit labs situated out– side the city. Certain technicians have set up labs in remote places and serve the needy at lower costs. How is it possible for those technicians to come to the city to verify reports from Mds?” said Shashikant Sali, lab in charge, Mediplus Laboratory.
We reach out to the poor and needy
"Pathologist are not ready to move out. We provide services in remote areas and to the poor and needy. If doctors object to our reports, we’ll shut down our labs”. said Gautam Vavchal, lab in charge, Shriram Pathology Lab, Wagholi.
We are graduates, not fakes!
“The interim order of the high court (HC) was passed on October 10, 2007. The final result is still not out. We have fielded an appeal in the HC to convey our side of the story. Since we are graduates, the Mds cannot claim that we are bogus or run illegal practices. I am running my laboratory for 15 years now and I have an MD Pathologist to verify the reports being erroneous. Government should not take such a stern stand against lab technicians. Qualified technicians are grated according to their capacity. In practice, 70 percent of the work is done by MDs, We have appealed to the government to introduce a ‘Paramedical council’ to represent all DMLT’ in the state. If a proper platform is created for us, our grievances will be heard. If labs all over the city or state are shut, around 50 per cent of the population living in vil–lages will be cut–off from this service.” said Raghunath Bhonagale, joint secretary, Association of the Clinical Labora–tory Analysists and Practitioners.
…And the others
Ima’s stand: Lab technicians only know technique not medicine
Dr Avinash Bhondawe, president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) Pune chapter told Mirror that DMLT qualified persons “Are allowed to perform only chemical testing as they have only technical knowledge of pathology”. “They are not entitled to authorise microscopic tests like HIV tests, pregnancy tests which are matters of life and death and call for in–depth treatment. To avoid such problems, we are decided to appeal to all general physicians to not refer cases to unauthorized labs.” He added that IMA would appeal to MD pathologists no to support such labs as few of pathologist are connected with them.
Civic speak: We’ll take action against errant technicians
Dr DD chandakkar, deputy health officer of the Pune Municipal Corporation said that registration of pathological labs was not mandatory as per the law. “But after the verdict of the Bombay HC is the regard, we are talking the relevant information on how action should be taken against labs run by non–pathology MDs.”
Pathological angle: Using electroic signature of MDS is illegal
“There are only 120 to 150 authorised labs in the city. That means the rest are illegal. The ratio of legal labs to unathorised labs is 1:4 Also, using electronic signature of MD pathologists on reports illegal, as before giving a report to the patient the MD should verify the results.” said Dr. Dilip Wani, secretary, Indian Association of Practicing Pathologists.
The high court decision of 2007
According to the verdict of Bombay High Court right of running pathological labs
- The holder of DMLT (Diploma in Lab Technicians)is not authorized to run a pathology lab.
- If person holding DMLT or other equivalent qualification want to run such a lab, he or she is required to appoint a qualified pathologist recognized by the Maharashtra Medical Council and the Medical Council of India to certify the reports for want of which they cannot be permitted to practice as such
- Only those persons having a degree of MD(Path) or DCP (Diploma in Clinical Pathology) are authorized to run a path lab.
- A lab technician cannot authorize the pathology reports.