Local Bodies In Maharashtra Gear Up To Curb Operation Of Illegal Pathology Laboratories

Local Bodies In Maharashtra Gear Up To Curb Operation Of Illegal Pathology Laboratories

Mumbai, 15 June 2018: Close on the heels of Supreme Court and Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) directions, the local bodies in the state have stepped up efforts to curb operation of illegal pathology laboratories. 


Health departments of Thane, Nanded-Waghala, Amravati, Solapur, Sangli, Akola, Chandrapur city, Panvel city municipal corporations have dashed off a letter to all the private hospitals/pathology labs in their respective jurisdictions directing them to submit pathologist details. If any institute conducting pathological tests without having a pathologist in its panel, strict action will be taken against such hospital/lab, the letter stated. 


It is learnt that there are around 10,000 diagnostic labs in Maharashtra and pathologists are just 2,200. Around 8,000 labs are being run by non-pathologists such as people having diploma in medical laboratory technology (DMLT) or other equivalent qualifications, posing major risks to the health of patients. 


Following the apex court order on December 12, 2017 saying that pathological reports can only be certified by pathology post graduates (MD in pathology), Maharashtra Association of Practicing Pathologists and Microbiologists (MAPPM), the largest body of certified pathologists in the state had written to all district collectors and local bodies in the state seeking implementation of the court order in the interest of patients' heath.


Dr Prasad Kulkarni, member, executive council, MAPPM said “We have time and again raised the issue of operation of illegal labs leading to wrong diagnosis and wrong treatment. At times it results in delay in treatment causing financial hardship to patients.”


The MSHRC had also appealed to the Maharashtra government to withdraw its circular dated May 26, 2016 allowing DMLT holders to operate medical labs independently which is in violation of Supreme Court and varied High Court orders and Maharashtra Medical Practitioners Act 1961 and Medical Council of India norms.


The commission in its letter last week of January 2018 had directed the government to implement notification dated May 24, 2016 making presence of pathologists compulsory in diagnostic labs.


So far the Maharashtra government has not withdrawn the notification dated May 26, 2016. Contrary to Maharashtra government's approach to curb operation of labs run by non medical practitioners/ non-pathologists, Haryana government on May 24, 2017 had issued a circular mandating that the minimum qualification required for signature of clinical lab report is MBBS. 


However the association of practising pathologists had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the Haryana government's order.  Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain has issued notice of motion while fixing the case for July 11 for further hearing. 


Besides Maharashtra, local authorities in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have also started action against illegal diagnostic labs. In Haryana, Gurugram civil surgeon in a circular last month directed all private hospitals/path labs to submit the detail of pathologist/MBBS. Action will be taken against labs conducting medical tests in absence of pathologist, said the notification. 


Rewari civil surgeon also issued similar notification to all private hospitals/path labs in his jurisdiction. 


In Uttar Pradesh chief medical officer of Muzaffarnagar had recently revoked licenses of 77 out of a total 95 path labs as these labs were run by MBBS doctors rather than MD-pathology which is a violation of the apex court and Allahabad High Court orders. There are only 18 pathologists in the district. Pharmabiz