Artificial shortage of experts to sign diagnostic reports after MCI order

Artificial shortage of experts to sign diagnostic reports after MCI order

Artificial shortage of experts to sign diagnostic reports after MCI order

The Union Health Ministry has received an alert on a potential public health crisis due to the sudden disappearance of "qualified" personnel to sign lakhs of pathology reports generated daily by diagnostic laboratories all over the country.

The crisis may precipitate because of a recent Supreme Court order, which upheld the Medical Council of India's stand of allowing only MD (Pathology) degree holders to sign the laboratory reports, preventing holders of MD and M.Sc degrees in biochemistry and microbiology from signing these documents.

"If the SC order is strictly followed, we will be left with just about 5,500 MD (Pathology) degree holders to sign lakhs of reports prepared by three lakh diagnostic laboratories," Girdhar J Gyani, director general of Association of Healthcare Providers (India), a body of nearly 1,200 private hospitals, told DH.

The association urged the Union Health Ministry to approach the apex court for a review.

Besides MD (Pathology) degree holders, there are around 9,500 postgraduate medical degree holders in microbiology and biochemistry. In addition, there are 20,000 M.Sc in microbiology and biochemistry and nearly 1,500 Ph.D holders in these two disciplines.

"All put together, there are 36,500 qualified personnel, who have been the authorised signatories for various medical test reports. But going by the SC order, we will be left only with 5,500 people authorised to sign the reports generated by 3 lakh medical testing laboratories," Gyani said.

Genesis

In June 2017, MCI came out with an order saying only an MD (pathology) – an MBBS doctor who has done his/her post graduation in pathology – can countersign the diagnostic reports.

The order was challenged twice in the High Courts of Delhi and Ahmedabad, but when the matter came before the Supreme Court, the top court upheld the MCI decision.

"The stand of the Medical Council of India that laboratory reports can be countersigned only by a registered medical practitioner with a post graduate qualification in pathology is correct," the SC said in its December 12 order.

Last year, MCI even communicated its decision to the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) that certifies diagnostic laboratories.

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