The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, upheld the stand taken by the Medical Council of India (MCI) that "Laboratory Report can be counter signed only by a registered medical practitioner with a post graduate qualification in pathology".
The Bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R. Banumathi was hearing a bunch of Special Leave Petitions challenging an order passed in September, 2010 by the Gujarat High Court, wherein it was held that Laboratory Technicians, not being Pathologists, cannot run any laboratory independently.
The High Court had noted that Laboratory Technicians (Pathology) are not registered with the Medical Council of India, whereas Doctors in Pathology, who have obtained MBBS qualification, are. Only the latter are permitted to sign or counter sign a lab report, it had ruled.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Mukhopadhaya and Justice M. Thaker had then opined, "Though it is open to any person or institute to run a pathology laboratory, but no report can be issued without the signature or counter signature of the practicing pathologist recognized by the Medical Council of India. The respondents are directed to ensure that no pathology laboratory is run by any unqualified person or institute having no recognized pathologists registered with the Medical Council. However, if such pathological laboratory is run by a pathologist registered with the Medical Council, or if such pathological laboratory engages a pathologist registered with the Medical Council, the respondents may allow such laboratory to run. Individual Laboratory Technician cannot be allowed to run pathological laboratory independently without engaging a pathologist registered with the Medical Council."
Meanwhile, in July this year, the MCI had issued a directive mandating that all lab reports be signed by a qualified MBBS doctor registered with either the MCI or a state medical council. The MCI seems to have reasserted this stand before the Apex Court, which duly approved it.