NEW DELHI: Nearly three years after the Supreme Court passed an order that all laboratories and diagnostic reports can only be signed by a qualified pathologist, the medical profession regulator has advised the Union Health Ministry to allow even non-doctors, with relevant degrees, to issue reports but without offering any medical opinion or interpretation.
The Medical Council of India of Governors, that governs medical education and profession — in a letter sent to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry — has said that those with a masters degree in medical microbiology and medical biochemistry and PhD in relevant subjects can sign lab reports without offering any opinion.
Officials in the MCI-Bog told this newspaper that the norm was followed earlier too but the guidelines in the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010-rules for which were made two years later said that the reports should be signed only by qualified doctors.
This was further reinforced in a judgement by the Supreme Court in 2017 that specifically said that these reports can be countersigned by those having an MD degree in pathology.
The latest MCI letter to the government has come in the view of a clarification sought by the Delhi High Court where an association of laboratory technicians had approached.
“We have given our view to the government as it’s not practical to ask only pathologists to sign the lab reports given their acute shortage in the country,” said a senior MCI-BOG official.
There are about 6,000 doctors in the country with a degree of MD in pathology while the number of labs is estimated at over 3.2 lakhs. Total technicians working in the labs, on the other hand, are estimated at nearly 38,000.
Not everybody in the sector, however, is happy with the MCI-BOG’s suggestions.
“This recommendation is ambiguous as every lab report does contain interpretation to a certain extent and will encourage quackery in the sector,” said Dr Navin Dang, who runs a leading diagnostic laboratory in the capital.
“The minimum qualification for the professionals signing the reports should at least be MBBS if not MD.”