Hyderabad, Jan. 13: Andhra Pradesh has initiated steps to accredit diagnostic laboratories and medical testing centres to curb their proliferation and prevent deaths due to wrong diagnosis.
The initiative comes close on the heels of reports that there are nearly 1,300 fake diagnostic centres, offering HIV/AIDS testing facilities, across the state.
Andhra Pradesh will be the first state to regulate its nearly 35,000 diagnostic labs. “Since no licences were required till now, diagnostic laboratories mushroomed all over the state,” said state health minister K. Shivaprasad Rao. “Henceforth, all diagnostic labs should be registered and their registration would be subject to renewal every two years.”
None of the 19 diagnostic centres in the country recognised by the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories are in Andhra Pradesh. March, a scientific rights group, has launched a campaign against human rights violation by fake diagnostic centres. Wrong diagnosis and treatment resulted in 22 deaths in 2001-02.
The state administration plans to blacklist test centres about which complaints of wrong diagnosis have been received. “We will publish a list of accredited labs,” the health minister added.
The state government should also publish a list of blacklisted labs so that people avoid visiting such centres, said Chandana Chakrabarti, a March activist.
Private laboratory-owners, however, say the government’s decision would only help in promoting corruption and put existing test facilities under more pressure. “Government institutions are very few and unable to tackle the demand,” said Andhra Pradesh Private Labs Association president V. Venkat Rao. “The government should help us to import better equipment at cheaper prices rather than placing regulations on our functioning,” Rao added.