The Medical Council of India (MCI) has written to the state chief secretary and top health officials in the Delhi government to enforce “legal provisions” for registration of private diagnostic centres in the capital and put in place mechanisms to monitor — and prosecute — any unethical practices among doctors in prescribing diagnostic tests.
The move comes after the regulatory body’s ethics committee convened an emergency meeting last week following Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan’s orders to conduct an “impartial inquiry” into a sting by a television channel. The sting showed eight leading diagnostic centres in an alleged nexus with doctors for prescribing tests.
Sources said state Health department officials, who were also summoned by the MCI, told the ethics committee that since there was no legal provision in the National Capital Territory (NCT) for registration of diagnostic centres, they could not take any action against them.
“It was communicated that the state Health department can only register private hospitals and nursing homes and, hence, periodical inspections are carried out to check malpractices there. But there is absolutely no mechanism to check violation of ethical practices by diagnostic centres,” an MCI official explained.
The MCI, in its letter to the state chief secretary, has requested that “the appropriate authority” be empowered to register diagnostic centres to “monitor them and curb unethical practices”.
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The MCI has also asked the chief secretary to “take appropriate action” against the eight clinics under applicable laws.
Dr K P Kushwaha, a member of the ethics committee, had earlier written to the committee’s head, asking for rules to be framed under the MCI’s code of ethics for shutting diagnostic clinics which engage in unethical practices.
The ethics committee will also issue advisories to all state councils to take “immediate action” and “decide on an urgent basis” such complaints or suo motu on “doctors accepting commissions for prescribing diagnostic tests” with intimation to the MCI.
Sources said the MCI will also frame a proforma after consulting legal experts. It will have to be signed by medical practitioners and administrative heads of diagnostic centres to state the terms under which different tests will be prescribed, and state councils will have to monitor its terms.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Medical Council is preparing to conduct an awareness drive among registered practitioners in view of the Centre putting the spotlight on checking corruption in the health sector. Dr Harsh Vardhan has raised the issue on several occasions, including in the Lok Sabha, last week.