New Delhi: Reiterating the earlier stand of the Medical Council of India which specified that only qualified medical practitioners can sign lab reports, the Delhi High Court recently dismissed a petition filed by the Association of Clinical Biochemists and Microbiologists, challenging the said rule.
It is reported that a petition was filed by the said association, challenging the recent dictum was the Medical Council of India that it had communicated to the NABL – “all lab reports to be signed/countersigned by persons registered with MCI/State Medical Council.” In its petition, the association stated that said impugned communication is without jurisdiction and contrary to Section 15(2) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (hereafter ‘IMC Act’), further contending that it deprives members of the petitioner association of their valuable right to conduct their trade and profession.
The association, primarily consisting of Medical Mscs and Phds in Biochemistry and Microbiology stated that the work of conducting laboratory test and submitting reports is essentially a skilled task for which the members of the petitioner association are amply
qualified and it is not necessary that the test report submitted by them be countersigned by a medical practitioner whose name is entered in the medical register.
The counsel for the MCI argued that the Indian Medical Council Act which expressly provides that no person other than a medical practitioner would be entitled to sign or authenticate a medical or fitness certificate or any other certificate required by law to be signed or authenticated by a duly qualified medical practitioner. He submitted that the members of the petitioner association were not entitled to sign any medical fitness certificate and a pathology report would fall within the scope of a medical certificate if there is any expression of opinion and/or indicative diagnosis. He submitted that it is in this context that MCI had issued the impugned communication insisting that a pathology report be countersigned by a medical practitioner.
The court noted that
it is apparent from the above that no person other than a duly qualified medical practitioner is entitled to sign any medical report. Thus, members of petitioner association cannot sign a medical report or a medical certificate.
However, the same does not preclude the members of the petitioner association to give a technical report as to the tests conducted by them. Plainly, such report can only be for consumption of medical practitioners and pathologists. The said report cannot be treated as a diagnosis of any medical condition. Thus, there can be no objection if the technical report submitted by the qualified technicians indicates the result of their tests or the technical analysis of the samples, as long as the members of the petitioner association refrain from expressing any medical opinion or holding out the technical result of the medical tests conducted by them as a diagnosis of any medical condition.
Quoting a previous Bombay High Court judgement on the similar issue, the court noted
This Court is also of the view that although members of the petitioner association are not precluded from acting as a laboratory technicians and submitting the result of tests conducted by them, adequate safeguard must be maintained to ensure that the reports submitted by them are not mistaken as medical certificates or diagnostic reports as that would, concededly, violate Section 15(2)(d) of the IMC Act, 1956. Thus, it would be apposite that all test reports must necessarily bear a disclaimer to the effect that the report are strictly for the use of medical practitioners and pathologists and the reports are not medical diagnostic results. Any pathological report which purports to record any opinion or to indicate any diagnosis must necessarily be co-signed by a qualified medical practitioner.