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NMMTA sceptical of MoH&FW’s new gazette on the requirement of PhD for authorised signatory at diagnostic labs

The NMMTA had filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court in 2019, and hearing of the case was supposed to take place on 16th March, 2020 but due to the outbreak of novel Covid-19, it has been postponed to 20th May, 2020

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The National MSc Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) recently wrote to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sharing their reservations related to the recent gazetted notification by the ministry on the compulsion of PhD degree for authorisation of lab reports at all medium and advanced laboratories.

According to the latest gazette notification regarding Clinical Establishment (Central Government) Amendment Rules 2020, professionals with MSc degree in medical microbiology or medical biochemistry with three years of laboratory experience can become authorised signatory in a diagnostic laboratory for tests respective to their specialisation without recording any opinion or interpretation of lab results.

A PhD in medical microbiology or medical biochemistry shall be required for medium and advanced laboratories, the gazette stated. The notification came after the Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI) communicated its decision regarding the role of an authorised signatory to the ministry.

In keeping with this, the NMMTA had filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court in 2019, and hearing of the case was supposed to take place on 16th March, 2020 but due to the outbreak of novel Covid-19, it has been postponed to 20th May, 2020.

Commenting on the recent announcement and due next course of actions, Dr Sridhar Rao, President, National MSc Medical Teachers’ Association said, “We welcome the initiated move by MoHFW, but we do have some reservations on this. We believe that knowledge and skills required to interpret and sign diagnosis test reports, are already acquired during the Medical MSc. Postgraduate course and PhD degree don’t confer any additional skills or knowledge in performing these routine tests. And to highlight this aspect, we have already written a letter to the ministry.”

He also pointed out that since the medical laboratory sector does not have the streamlined regulatory system/agency to provide the exact numbers, our crude estimation is that there would be approximately 30,000 qualified professionals, who will be deprived or demotivated from their work. In such a condition, where we have lakhs of laboratories across the country, and knowing the fact of scarcity of qualified doctors in the country, will it be possible for doctors to sign the reports instead of attending patients? Understanding the situation, we recommend to the ministry that the scientists with appropriate qualifications and training, who are already available, government should utilise their services rather than siding them away.

Clinical scientists signing laboratory reports is practised all over the world, including the US, the UK, the European Union, Middle East countries, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, etc. In fact, the West Bengal government had included the clinical scientists in its Clinical Establishments Act guidelines. With the Union government clearing the way, rest of the states must adopt these guidelines. However, we have already asked all the state government health officials to implement the amendment as per the latest gazette notification regarding Clinical Establishment (Central Government) Amendment Rules 2020,” he added.

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