MUMBAI: The licence of a Thane pathologist has been suspended for six months for his alleged association, in terms of lending his name and registration number, to nearly a hundred laboratories across Mumbai, Thane and Raigad which he didn’t physically visit or supervise. Deeming this “unethical”, the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) found it was physically impossible for the doctor to supervise or perform tests at all the centres, some 100km apart.
The MMC handed out the suspension verdict to Dr Pravin Shinde on August 3, barring his practice for six months. The MMC, a quasi-judicial body, said his association with labs spread across the “length and breadth of Karjat, Roha, Panvel, and Nalasopara, Vasai and Virar” only underlined that reports carried his name and signature without his presence or supervision. Several reports, MMC said, had only his name, not even registration number-a violation of norms.
In some lab reports, his digital signature appeared.
This is the second instance of Dr Shinde facing suspension from MMC. The first was in March 2016, when the body found him guilty on the same counts. The complaint was made in 2013 by the Maharashtra Association of Practising Pathologists and Microbiologists (MAPPM) against four pathologists, including Dr Shinde, who approached the high court against the suspension order. The court directed MMC to conduct a fresh inquiry.
“(Dr Shinde’s) labs stretched from Kharghar to Virar. How is it humanly possible for a doctor to be present at all these places?” said MAPPM president Dr Sandeep Yadav. He said the association had cases against six pathologists for indulging in such practices.
As per law, a pathology report can only be countersigned by a registered medical practitioner with the degree MD (pathology). While multiple affiliations are allowed, it is a pathologist who is required to analyse a report and finalize findings. Labs are typically run by technicians holding either a certificate degree in medical laboratory technology (CMLT) or a diploma in medical laboratory technology (DMLT).
Dr Shinde rubbished the allegations and said his supposed tie-up with 200 labs was conjured up by MAPPM. “I will appeal against the MMC order. Could the association give any proof to back their allegations? The law allows us to work with multiple places as we can analyse 10 test reports in 20-25 minutes,” he told TOI. “I run a central laboratory in Thane and several centres send their samples here for testing. Even big corporate diagnostic chains process thousands of samples at night without any pathologist. How is that legal?”
He said some laboratories were fabricating his signature on their reports and he lodged police complaints against them in 2014.
The state has around 6,000 labs owned and run by pathologists. MAPPM’s Dr Yadav said the count of illegal labs would be more than 13,000.