Mumbai: Lab technician plays doctor at BMC hospital in Malad

Mar 19, 2016, 08:40 IST | Sadaguru Pandit

There's making do with the available manpower during a staff crunch, and then there is playing with the lives of patients by roping in unqualified personnel. The Sadashiv Kanoji Patil Municipal General Hospital in Malad East has chosen the latter by going rogue. It has handed over the reins of its pathology laboratory to a lab technician — a blatant violation of the norms of the Medical Council of India (MCI).

Sadashiv Kanoji Patil Municipal General Hospital in Malad East
Sadashiv Kanoji Patil Municipal General Hospital in Malad East

An RTI application, filed by an independent pathologist on February 3, has revealed that the 50-bed hospital has been allowing its laboratory technician to sign all test reports in the absence of a BMC-appointed specialist. In his response, chief medical superintendent of BMC peripheral hospitals Mahendra Wadiwal said the hospital has no pathologist to look after the laboratory, which offers diagnostic tests and cross-matching of blood.

The pathology department has been headless and without a specialist since the hospital was taken over the BMC in 1991. The hospital was built in 1957.

The hospital is a prominent secondary healthcare facility for the residents of Goregaon, Malad and Kandivli. Sprawling over 15,000 sqft, the hospital offers medical, orthopaedic, surgical, psychiatry, paediatric pathological, radiological and ECG services.

The applicant, who did not want to reveal his identity, told mid-day that he had filed the RTI plea after he got a sniff of the hospital toying with the lives of its patients during a discussion with a doctor. "The BMC said it has neither an HoD nor a specialist pathologist working at the laboratory. Moreover, the officials mentioned that in the absence of a pathologist, it is the laboratory technician who is signing the reports, an act that violates the MCI's rules and risks patients' health."

Dr Pravin Pahurkar, the medical superintendent of the hospital, refused to be drawn into a discussion. "The matter has already been escalated (with higher officials) through repeated correspondence. The chief medical superintendent is aware of the issue and has the reports submitted by all hospitals. Take the matter up with him."

Wadiwal refused to comment on the issue.

MCI guidelines
The guidelines of the MCI, which regulates the certification and registration of doctors across the country, state that no individual laboratory technician can run a pathology lab or give away reports. In a letter, issued after a meeting of the executive committee of the MCI in 2011, the regulatory body had stated, “We all hold that laboratory technicians, not being pathologists, cannot run a laboratory individually and that they cannot give any report to any patient or any individual or institution or doctor without being authorised by the same. Though anybody can run a pathology laboratory, no reports can be issued without the signature or counter-signature of a practising pathologist registered with the Medical Council of India.”

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