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The week-long statewide strike by radiologists against their alleged harassment and misuse of the Pre-Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act ended following a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday evening, hours after a host of organisations of doctors, including Indian Medical Association’s Pune chapter, announced their support to the stir by the radiologists and vowed to themselves go on an indefinite strike from June 27.
The strike by the radiologists ended after the Chief Minister reportedly agreed to set up a high-level committee to look into their demands.
“We have now decided to call off the strike not just in Pune, but also across the state,” said Dr Gururaj Lacchan, in-charge of the Pune unit of Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA).
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According to Dr Viren Kulkarni, member of Pune unit of IRIA, the committee promised by the CM will formulate a detailed standard operating procedure to deal with issues relating to clerical errors and record-keeping by doctors while a grievance cell will review the pending cases. The CM has also assured a high-level probe to look into their allegations against PMC doctor Vaishali Jadhav, who has been accused of misusing the PC-PNDT Act to harass the radiologists.
Kulkarni said while while the strike had been called off, the radiologists would go ahead with their scheduled rally in Mumbai on June 22.
Earlier in the day, various doctors’ bodies, including IMA’s Pune chapter, announced their support for the stir by radiologists and threatened to join the strike from June 27.
Dr Mohan Joshi, chief of Pune chapter of IMA, told reporters, “Doctors should not be considered a soft target. We are not holding patients to ransom, but enough is enough. Doctors are being pulled up for really silly clerical mistakes.”
According to Dr Jayant Navrange, in-charge of the medico-legal cell of the IMA, organisations like Poona Doctors Association, General Practitioners Association, Orthopaedic, Opthalmology and Obstetric and Gynaecology societies are joining hands with radiologists to protest against the allegedly misuse of the PC-PNDT Act in Pune.
“Recently, 69 doctors were giving warnings not to make mistakes in filling forms that gave details of the medical history of the pregnant women failing which they would also be charged under sections of PC-PNDT Act that mainly tackles illegal sex selection of the foetus,” Dr Navrange said.
The IMA decided to scrutinise the mistakes made by these “errant doctors” and found that out of 29,004 forms the PMC had collected from doctors, only 81 forms had 193 clerical mistakes, Dr Navrange said. “The clerical errors were so ridiculous that we cannot believe doctors were pulled up and warned under the PC-PNDT Act. The distance between the doctor’s signature and seal or stamp of his office was one of the errors equated to illegal sex selection of the foetus,” he said.
Dr Kulkarni of IRIA’s Pune unit said radiologists were also similarly pulled up for silly mistakes. “Radiologists have been pulled up for not writing the full name of the doctor and just providing initials. There are so many mistakes committed by government officials in official documents, but they are never pulled up,” he said.
Dr Bharati Dhore Patil, vice-president of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecology Society of India, said it was extremely unfair to target doctors just for clerical errors.
Dr Milind Duggad of Pune Obstetric and Gynaecology Society also appealed to authorities to look at the issue sensitively. “Yes, there are black sheep in the fraternity. Catch them. We will help you do that,” Duggad said.