Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has issued a show-cause notice to a doctor from Ghatkopar in Mumbai for recommending an asymptomatic patient to undergo Coronavirus testing, reports Hindustan Times.
The civic body has alleged that the action of the general physician ‘violated’ the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), BMC, and that of Epidemic Disease Act (1897) and the Disaster Management Act (2005).
Doctor intimidated by BMC
The Assistant Commissioner of N ward, Ajit Ambi, has also threatened to cancel the doctor’s licence, in case he failed to respond to the contentious notice within 24 hours. As per the notice, the physician who runs a private clinic in Ghaktokpar has not followed the ICMR rules ‘scrupulously’ with regards to testing asymptomatic Coronavirus patients. He has been asked to explain why his licence should not be cancelled. “Now, it has come to the native of this office, based on reports of one number of patients that you have not been following the said ICMR guidelines scrupulously, especially regarding the testing of asymptomatic patients,” the notice sent to the doctor said.
Criticism of the Contentious Notice
“These are the ways the corporation is trying to scare us so that we don’t run many tests and so that they can show lesser number of Covid cases,” the doctor’s colleague was quoted as saying. He added that a doctor has the right to conduct testing on a patient, exhibiting no symptoms, if he feels the need based on his expertise.
The controversial move by BMC has also drawn sharp criticism from the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA). President of MMC Dr Shivkumar Utture said that the civic body cannot cancel the licence of any doctor. As per the rules laid down by the India Medical Council, only they are authorised to do so. Criticising the intimidatory notice, IMA President Dr. Avinash Bhondwe sighed, “We don’t need threatening letters, we need safety gears. Such arrogant behaviour will discourage doctors.”
BMC had made testing guidelines stringent to reduce number of tests
Earlier, the BMC had announced that show-cause notices will be issued to private doctors if they recommend COVID-19 swab test without physically examining the patients. BMC had said that not only they will issue show cause notice for cancellation of licences of offending doctors, they will also register FIR against such doctors.
The Medical Health Officers have been told by the civic body that if they find any doctor recommending tests without physical examination, they should first issue them show-cause notices for cancellation of their registration. If the doctors are found doing the same again, then they would be booked.
In its guidelines released on May 12, BMC had clarified that symptomatic persons should be tested after registered private medical practitioners recommend the same. BMC had made testing guidelines stringent after many asymptomatic people rushed to get tested.
Coronavirus outbreak in Maharashtra
As of May 24, Maharashtra has reported 47,190 active cases of Coronavirus and 1,577 deaths. The coronavirus outbreak in Maharashtra has reached acute levels as the contagion is now rapidly spreading through the front line forces such as doctors and police personnel. Recently, a general physician(GP) from Chembur, Mumbai was the third doctor to die from the menace of the Chinese virus. The wife of the deceased doctor has now levelled serious allegations of negligence and dereliction against the Maharashtra government.