With more than 10,000 diagnostic laboratories and just over 2,200 certified pathologists, most pathological laboratories in Maharashtra are run without a doctor, according to data from the Directorate of Medical Research and Education (DMER).
A recent report by an expert committee, made under the guidance of the joint director of DMER,said that diagnostic test reports have to be supervised by a registered pathologist. Experts have said that technicians can misdiagnose reports, putting the lives of patients at risk.
The Maharashtra Association of Practising Pathologists and Microbiologists (MAPPM), the largest body of certified pathologists in the state has alleged that state officials are guarding illegal pathological labs by allowing technicians to sign test reports for blood, urine, tissue, body fluids and other histopathology findings.
MAPPM has alleged that the findings of the report, which are in accordance with a Bombay high court order of 2009, are ignored to allow the mushrooming of illegal laboratories. “We have estimated that the industry of illegal laboratories is worth Rs500cr. Even in Mumbai, almost 1/3 of the labs are illegal and no action by police or government officials have been taken till date,” said Dr Sandeep Yadav, president of MAPPM.
In a GR on June 24, 2016 officials mentioned that examining samples of body fluids, urine, blood or tissue and signing medical reports is a medical practice and should be done only by a registered medical professional.
“The technicians with Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology (DMLT) or equivalent degrees, recognised by Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) can be allowed to do the tests, however; the clinical analysis has to be done by registered pathologists,” read the report, accessed by MAPPM under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Responding to the allegations of Dr Yadav and colleagues who demanded suspension of Dr Pravin Shingare, director, DMER for protecting the interests of illegal laboratories, Shingare said that MAPPM fails to address the issue of shortage of registered pathologists in the state while demanding a ban on illegal laboratories.
“There are 2271 pathologists registered with MMC and we have a genuine crisis of manpower in rural areas of the state. Technician’s work area, even at this moment, is to test samples with the help of existing machinery and handover the mechanically printed report. They are not involved in giving out opinions based on the same,” said Dr Shingare.