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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Cabinet clears bill to check medical malpractices

In a move that may help in improving medical services, checking malpractices and sub-standard services to patients, the government has decided make registration of all private, public medical facilities and diagnostic laboratories operating in the country compulsory.

The cabinet on Thursday cleared the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Bill that aims at bringing all clinical establishments under a single regulatory framework.

The bill is expected to be tabled in the budget session of parliament. It envisages registering and regulating all hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and labs run by government, trusts (public or private), corporations (including a cooperative society), local authorities or a single doctor.

This means, all clinical establishments would now have to maintain a certain minimum quality standard set down by the National Council for Standards. They would be subject to government scrutiny and rated for their quality, facilities and services. Establishments providing unsatisfactory healthcare can lose licence to operate.

Conditions of registration include having minimum standard of facilities, minimum qualification of health personnel and providing evidence of compliance of the prescribed standards. These establishments will also be open for inspection by authorities. Penalty for non-registration will be an offence punishable with fine up to Rs5 lakh.

A clinical establishment will include hospitals, maternity homes, nursing homes, dispensaries, clinics, etc, and similar facilities with beds that offer diagnosis, treatment or care for illness, injury or pregnancy in any recognised system of medicine (allopathy, yoga, naturopathy, ayurveda, homeopathy, siddha and unani).
It also includes any laboratory (either established as independent entity or part of an establishment), which offers pathological, bacteriological, genetic, radiological, chemical, biological and other diagnostic or investigative services.

With the proposed law, the government expects to crack down on private diagnostic laboratories, especially those engaged in illegal sex determination tests and fraudulent medical practices.

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