Hospitals and diagnostic labs demand review of the SC order that only postgraduate pathologists can sign test reports
Till recently the medical laboratory reports were reviewed and signed by MD Pathology, MD Microbiology, MD Biochemistry, M. Sc or Ph. D in Microbiology and Bio-Chemistry.
NEW DELHI: Hospitals and diagnostic laboratories across the country are demanding the review of a Supreme Court order, issued last month that ruled that only postgraduate degree holders in Pathology can now sign medical test reports.
Till recently the medical laboratory reports were reviewed and signed by MD Pathology, MD Microbiology, MD Biochemistry, M. Sc or Ph. D in Microbiology and Bio-Chemistry. However, this was changed by medical education and practice regulator Medical Council of India in June last year, which issued a new order saying that only MD Pathology can put a final signature on a test report.
The MCI order was challenged in the Supreme Court by an association of pathologists in Gujarat but the apex court too upheld the MCI ruling barring anyone else, apart from postgraduate pathologists to put signatures on test reports.
Hospitals, however, are now arguing that there are only 5500 qualified MD Pathologists in the country and the order will lead to a major crisis as there are over 3 lakh medical testing laboratories in India.
The Association of Healthcare Providers of India, a body that represents thousands of hospitals in the country, in a representation to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that “it will be humanly impossible for 5500 MD Pathology persons to handle the workload”.
The association has contended that while there are around 9500 professionals with MD Microbiology and MD Biochemistry qualification, those with postgraduate degree holders in Microbiology and Biochemistry are around 20000.
“Add to this number we have about 1500 PhD in Biochemistry, Microbiology, Genetics and Molecular biology. All put together we have 36,500 qualified personnel, who have been till now the authorized signatories for various medical test reports,” the association has written.
“By virtue of the SC order, we will be left with only 5500 persons, who would be authorized to sign the report,” it also said.
The hospitals and laboratories have also pointed out that with the new ruling, 5500 MD pathologists will be pushed to become visiting signatory authorities covering many cities.
“Pathologists may begin lending electronic signatures from one central office to hundreds of test reports. All this will hamper the authenticity of test reports, which are the sole basis for physicians to prescribe treatment,” wrote the AHPI.
“These pathologists will hardly be enough even for major tier-I or II cities. This will adversely affect the availability of signatories in smaller towns and rural areas would be worst sufferers,” the associated stressed.