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The shady business

The shady business
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By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit

In India number of pathology labs are functioning illegally as per the a new survey. There are pathologists who were found signing reports, without supervising the testing. There are many labs that are actually being run by technicians, holding either a Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology (DMLT) or Certificate degree in Medical Laboratory Technology (CMLT), which qualifies one to conduct tests but only under a pathologist’s supervision.

Patients, who consult a doctor because they charge low consultation fee, are unaware of the fact that many such doctors make up for the ‘low’ consultation fee by advising unnecessary tests. For becoming a pathologist, a person has to first complete MBBS, followed by either a two-year degree in clinical pathology or MD in pathology.

It would be inappropriate to allow the technicians to practice and they should continue working under a pathologist’s supervision. It is also observed that a large number of pathological laboratories are not being run by qualified registered medical practitioners possessing requisite qualifications i.e. M.D. (Pathology).

The laboratories are being run without any check or inspection by the authorities. There are number of illegal laboratories that take their business with impunity under the right nose of health department in many states and that too without proper legal documentation and some of them are even not having registration numbers. Unqualified and untrained technicians have been employed by the owners for fleecing the patients. Such illegal laboratories have become a threat to the lives of poor patients.

Many conscientious medical practitioners themselves concede that any time, tests which are not required are also prescribed to improve business of diagnostic centres. And these doctors get hefty commissions from these diagnostic centres. It is an open secret that diagnostic centres survive on prescriptions issued by medical practitioners.

Depending on the kind of test, most physicians directly receive their cut from the diagnostic centres. The greed among the doctors is increasing by the day. Ultimately, it is the patient who suffers by undergoing unnecessary tests and spending their hard-earned money. There is strict guideline that every clinical establishment has to display the registration certificate at the reception counter.

Besides, none of the laboratories had any doctor or authorized person to conduct pathological tests or run such a business. No law enforcement agencies had ever raided the laboratory premises. It is a part of a big racket and some resourceful persons are involved in this business. The instruments used for conducting pathological tests are expensive which indicates that rich and influential persons have invested in the business.

On one hand, we feel proud to say that Indians have achieved superb success in medicines, in technological developments in medical science, and in healthcare facilities. On the other hand, it is a matter of great shame and disgrace that the healthcare sector in India is reputed to be involved in unethical and corrupt practices since a very long time.

Costs for simple and basic tests like blood sugar are around Rs 60-70 — such labs charge Rs 250, because they give the pathologist a ‘cut’.  There are cases where the officials are guarding illegal pathological labs by allowing technicians to sign test reports for blood, urine, tissue, body fluids and other histopathology findings.

It is reported that a large number of pathological laboratories are not being run by qualified registered medical practitioners possessing requisite qualifications i.e. M.D. (Pathology). The state health department must take stern actions against technicians setting up labs to conduct pathology tests which are bogus as per MMP Act.

(The author hails from Jodhpur Tekra, Ahmedabad)

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