Pathologist from Navi Mumbai loses licence for signing reports remotely
The Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has suspended the license of a Navi Mumbai-based pathologist for allegedly signing reports — without personal supervision — for more than 200 pathological laboratories across the state, in Karjat, Roha, Panvel, Nalasopara, Vasai and Virar.
This is the first suspension this year.
Senior MMC officials said Dr Pravin Shinde had “failed to maintain the dignity of the profession”, after a two-year investigation.
Shinde’s license was suspended for six months, five years after the Maharashtra Association of Practising Pathologists (MAPP), the largest body of certified pathologists in the state, filed a complaint against him.
Shinde, however, has refuted the allegation, and said he would appeal against the MMC’s decision in the Bombay high court within the stipulated 60-day period, only after which the punishment will come into effect.
A June 2016 government resolution has defined analysing samples of body fluids, urine, blood and tissue, and the signing of such medical reports as a medical practice.
This means any such analysis should only be done by a registered medical professional appointed in the laboratory.
According to Dr Rajesh Panjabrao Mane, the MAPP joint secretary who filed the complaint on June 17, 2013, Shinde was involved in the functioning of unlicensed laboratories across Maharashtra, with the help of other clinicians, technicians and pathologists.
“He was lending his digital signatures to multiple laboratories, without visiting them. The reports signed in his absence were given to patients. Despite running his own laboratory—Metro Care Pathological Laboratory in Navi Mumbai — his name is seen in reports from more than 200 laboratories in adjacent districts,” Dr Mane said.
The complaint also pointed out that reports were generated and signed by technicians, while patients were deceived thinking an MD pathologist was signing the reports.
Although Shinde was among four pathologists originally suspended by the MMC in 2016, he moved the Bombay high court, after which the council was directed to conduct a fresh inquiry that began on May 6, 2017. During the course of the inquiry, advocate Arun Mishra who appeared fornDr Shinde, denied all of MAPP’s allegations, and claimed he was being implicated. “In fact, Shinde has lodged a complaint against two laboratories for their violations, where he was neither attached as a pathologist, nor did he sign the reports. The complaint is nothing but an attempt to malign his reputation,” Mishra argued, during the inquiry, according to the the MMC’s final order .
The MMC, however, said Shinde had “failed to maintain the dignity of the profession, failed to mention his registration number on the reports and allowed his associates to misuse or permit them to issue reports on his behalf”. The MMC order added, “Professional misconduct is clearly established against him. After a detailed deliberation and decision made in a meeting on March 3, 2018, it was decided to cancel Dr Shinde’s registration for six months and refrain him from medical practice,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, registrar, MMC.
The order was released on August 3.
Shinde, too, refuted the allegations, and cited a Bombay High Court order which had asked MMC to conduct a fresh inquiry ‘in accordance with the law.’
“By passing this order, MMC is violating the court order because, neither the inquiry, nor the order was in accordance with the law,” Shinde claimed. “MAPP has fabricated the evidence and in both the HC and MMC hearings, they submitted photocopies of the documents that they used as proof that I was attached to multiple laboratories. If I was guilty, the HC wouldn’t have impugned MMC’s original order in 2016,” he said.
Shinde said he had asked the MMC to furnish the guidelines for working ethics of a pathologist several times, but claimed they failed to do so. “I wonder if there are 200 laboratories in these areas. Nowhere in Mumbai or nearby cities do pathologists sit in the laboratory 24/7. The technology has advanced, and has allowed us to verify pathological findings on virtual platforms rather than being physically present in the laboratory,” he added. Shinde plans to file a petition in Bombay high court. “I am sure I’ll be proven innocent if the inquiry is conducted in a fair manner.”