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The reports of investigations (tests) bridge the gap between clinical examination and treatment through diagnosis. A complete and accurate pathology report is crucial for getting a decisive diagnosis, which builds the foundation of a precise treatment. Pathology plays a pivotal role in healthcare management.

An accurate lab report will give you the exact nature and the cause of diseases. Health of the state largely depends on the three R principle – Right Tests, Right Place and Right Treatment.

Lab tests are done with three definite aims:

  • Confirm the diagnosis done by the doctor
  • Find any other diagnosis
  • Monitor the response of medicines on patients

An accurate lab report will give you the exact nature and the cause of diseases. So, doing the right diagnostic tests by qualified doctors (pathologist) is the key in disease management.

The health of the state largely depends on the three R principle – Right Tests, Right Place and Right Treatment.

Dr Sandeep Yadav
Dr Sandeep Yadav

The Honourable Supreme Court states laboratory test reports can only be countersigned by a registered pathologist. Laboratory technicians are meant to help pathologists and perform tests under their supervision. There are hundreds of examples of CBC test of blood cancer (leukaemia) patients being reported as normal by technicians.

Today, there is a surge in diagnostic tests under the veil of ‘Preventive Healthcare’. As a result, patients suffer an economic burden. A wrong test ultimately leads to the wrong diagnosis, and the end result is the wrong treatment, and this can prove fatal. We also see several advertisements all over, luring the people with discounts to draw them for preventive tests. The government should take suo-moto action, stop these unwanted investigations and end this business of extortion.

I would also like to draw your attention to the grim reality of ‘bogus pathologists’. Laboratories operated by technicians (non-pathologists) are making a complete mockery of health systems. In Maharashtra, there are anywhere between 8,000 to 10,000 illegal laboratories. How can pathology labs operated by technicians be allowed to operate? They are putting the lives of innocent people in jeopardy.

The harsh reality is the government giving a free hand to these technicians, citing a shortage of pathologists in rural areas. This excuse of the government is misleading, as in all the municipal corporation areas almost 70% laboratories are run by technicians independently. We feel that the government is trying to replace doctors with paramedics. Rather than allowing the technicians to conduct the medical tests independently, the government should create a mechanism so that pathologists go to rural areas. If the government takes this seriously, then only Maharashtra will become truly healthy.

Strengthening health infrastructure, creating a conducive environment and encouraging doctors and pathologists to work in rural areas can lead to better diagnosis and disease management. In my opinion, doctors should make sure that unnecessary investigations are curtailed, and the pathologists should be present while giving test reports to patients.

Unfortunately, today, the health system has become a business. The government must keep in mind that you cannot replace knowledge by merely substituting a person.

Right knowledge can help create a Healthy Maharashtra. My humble appeal to the government is don’t try and replace or substitute quality knowledge. Give legal diagnostic laboratories protection and take stringent action against those who are playing with the lives of the people.

The author is the President of the Maharashtra Association of Practicing Pathologist and Microbiologist

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