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A six-point survey done on pathology laboratories in India has reported that many of them might be indulging in the practice of “sink tests” in which a laboratory takes your sample and throw it in a sink and produce a false report. A nationwide survey by Local Circles, a social media platform for citizens on issues of “governance, utility and communities” has done this survey.
Dr Vidya V Bhat, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Fertility Specialist Medical Director, Radhakrishna Multispeciality Hospital and IVF Centre, said that there is no correlation between the investigations prescribed and the existing disease. Such practices can lead to wrong interpretations and incorrect reports. Hence, there should be proper regulations regarding laboratory requisitions and proper interpretation of the reports by the pathologist and microbiologist, in correlation with the clinician.
The survey mentioned that 35% of citizens don’t trust the pathology laboratoryin which they do testing and 34% of them say that they had received wrong reports. Almost 66% had said that their doctors have suggested a specific pathology lab for medical tests to be done.
The statement from Local Circles said that over the last 24 months, citizens are raising the need for better regulation of these laboratory on Local Circles. Around 1,000 of the existing over 1,00,000 operational laboratories in India are certified by the National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL), but many of them are functioning illegally and ften provide incorrect reports to patients.
A study by Harvard professor Ashish Jha said that above 5.2 million medical error cases have been reported in India each year. The study noted that most of these medical errors are caused due to lack of skills and proper training. Dr Prathima K M, Head of Laboratory Medicine, Vikram Hospital, said that nowadays there is growing of diagnostic laboratories and many of them are managed by non-qualified personnel due to lack of regulatory /licensing authorities for running a medical diagnostic laboratory. As most of the machines are automated, they are assumed to get absolutely reliable values.
Experts had claimed that quality control procedures should be carried out correctly to get correct and reliable results. However, these are expensive, time-consuming and do require proficiency. Due to competition among labs, tests are done at a very lower price to attract customers, hence compromising on the quality and accuracy.
The survey has also asked consumers if doctors they visited over last one year has recommended any specific pathology lab for getting tests done. The results were that in 33% cases, most of the doctors said so while another 33% said that only few doctors followed the practice of recommending a lab. Only 29% people said that none of the doctors had asked do to such thing. Dr Pratima explained that clinical pathological correlation is an important tool in lab results which helps in the appropriate treatment. Also, treatment of patient is based on ‘evidence-based medicine’. Therefore, laboratory results form an important tool for treating the patients and doing lab tests from an accredited laboratory with qualified laboratory doctors is very important.
Dr Yatheesh Govindaiah, Unit Head and Assistant Director-Medical Services at Apollo Hospitals, said that tests are advised to either rule out or confirm a diagnosis. Nevertheless, if people in the survey have such opinions, then as a medical fraternity they would ensure transparency in their communication. Doctors should explain their patients the particular tests and why are they being asked and guarantee patients by explaining them everything.
Source: The New Indian Express