Pathologists in Kerala want steps to be taken to improve the functioning of laboratories

The Kerala chapter of the Indian Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists, an organization representing professional and academic pathologists, has demanded steps to improve working conditions in laboratories for better clinical outcomes.

The pathologist’s job is to convey clinical information to patients and physicians. Through accurate laboratory testing, they help diagnose chronic diseases and manage their treatment.

Association office-bearers like G Rajan, Ani Praveen, KP Aravindan and A Gouri told the media on Wednesday that all level-2 and level-3 laboratories should have an in-house pathologist as a full-time employee. The staff pattern proposed in the Clinical Establishment Act should be strictly followed. Only a qualified pathologist should report procedures such as peripheral blood smear tests and fine needle aspiration cytology. All abnormal complete blood count tests should be observed and commented upon by such specialists. Internal quality control for all tests should be carried out regularly and supervised by a pathologist or qualified biochemist.

A lab should be licensed only if it conducts at least 80% of all tests in-house. In all outsourced tests, it must be ensured that the referring laboratory has a proper internal quality control system in place. Dr. Aravindan pointed out that the cost of tests there should not be too low as it would raise suspicion that the tests are not conducted according to rigorous standards. Such a careless approach can also lead to misdiagnosis.

All physical pathology tests that require interpretation by a trained pathologist must be performed in the laboratory where the specimen is collected. If a second opinion is needed it should be referred to another pathologist. The office bearers of the association also demanded proper salary for the pathologists and appointment of such staff in required number in view of the large number of tests being conducted in the hospitals.