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A Raju, Hyderabad March 31 , 2017
The Telangana state government has adopted the new Clinical Establishment Act to streamline diagnostic centers and ensure accountability and transparency.  According to the new Act, it has now made it mandatory for all doctors attached with diagnostic laboratories to get registered with the Medical Council of India (MCI) and State Medical Council (SMC). While, earlier the diagnostic reports were prepared by the lower grade technicians and it was usually signed by untrained and non experienced M.Sc graduates.

However, with the adoption of new Act, it now stipulates that the M.Sc. graduates cannot sign the diagnostic reports and only qualified doctors must sign and approve the final diagnostic reports.  According to healthcare experts, the new Act is a well initiative taken up by the government to streamline the diagnostic centers and make them more responsible with their reports. In fact, in many instances earlier, there were drastic differences observed in diagnostic reports taken for same person from different diagnostic centers. This clearly reflects the stark reality as to how authentic is these diagnostic centers and their reports.  “At present the practice is that even though there are doctors attached to the diagnostic centers, the actual interpretation of the reports is done by the technicians or M.Sc graduates, but with the introduction of the new act, it will help the patients with better quality diagnostic reports approved by a registered doctor,” observed Sampath, in charge of a leading diagnostic center.

There are 60,000 pathology laboratories in India. In Hyderabad, blood samples are collected at local centers but the pathological testing is carried out in the main centers which may be in Bengaluru or Mumbai and the results are given the next day. However, as these reports are very important as it determines the future course of treatment for a patient, it needs to be approved and signed by a qualified and registered doctor instead of M.Sc post-graduate.  Except for accredited diagnostic centers that are very particular and follow the norms strictly, in majority of diagnostic centers in the country, they have appointed less qualified laboratory technicians whose job is to do the laboratory work and not to interpret the final results. The final interpretation must be done by a doctor, who can identify the exact disease.

Another doctor, who is a senior radiologist from Hyderabad, opined that in some centers, the technicians are allowed to interpret the radiology reports. However if this act is strictly implemented it will give better quality reports to the patients. “Ultra sound, CT scan and MRI reports must be interpreted by a radiologist only, this work cannot be left to technicians,” says Dr K Rajesh, a senior radiologists.  

Overall experts felt that if the new Clinical Establishment Act is implemented as intended, it will help remove quacks and unqualified people running the diagnostic centers.

But again there are also voices that are going against the new Act. According to Sridhar Rao, president of the National M.Sc Medical Teachers Association, it is not in favour of the new rules under the Act. “M.Sc degree holders are also registered in the Central and state level medical councils and they must not be barred from interpreting and signing laboratory reports. We want the government to rethink on this issue and M.Sc students are also trained in clinical diagnostics including specimen collection, processing, quality control and also interpretation of the results,” opined Sridhar Rao.

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