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Medical labs under govt microscope

Calcutta, Sept. 30: The health department today tightened the noose on pathological laboratories across the state following complaints that reports were often being drawn up by people without required qualifications.

Director of medical education C.R. Maity said the laboratories will be inspected and divided into three categories. Small laboratories conducting blood tests for TC, DC, ESR, sugar and urea and tests on stool and urine would comprise the first.

The second and third categories will include laboratories offering speciality tests on tissues to detect cancer and blood tests for lipid and cardiac profile, hepatitis A, B and C, hormone tests and super speciality investigations on immuno-chemistry that require the expertise of bio-chemists and micro-biologists.

The government today issued an order in this regard.

Maity said a mere signature of the pathologist on test reports from laboratories belonging to the second and third categories will not help. “These tests will have to be carried out by specialists — bio-chemists and micro-biologists — and they will have to sign the report. Only the pathologist’s signature will not do,” he said.

The objective of the exercise is to ensure quality, Maity added.

Inspectors from the health department would file reports on the conditions, space and equipment in the laboratories across the state and whether they had the infrastructure to meet the requirements of the category to which they belong.

Health officials said due to lack of adequate vigil, pathological laboratories had mushroomed. “There was no one to look after the quality of services they rendered and whether the pathologists carrying out high-profile tests were adequately qualified. If you have a particular blood test done from more than one run-of-the mill laboratory, you are bound to get reports with varying results,” Maity said.

Officials also blamed a section of doctors who had tie-ups with various laboratories. “These doctors have vested interests when they recommend patients for tests. Most of these laboratories do not have the required specialised equipment or experts. Patients suffer,” said an official.

Maity said a process is on to update information on doctors in the state.

“There have been many changes in addresses and a number of physicians have died. Against a fee of Rs 100 and Rs 1,000, we are issuing registration certificates with photographs to graduate and post-graduate doctors,” he said.

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