While Medical Council of India has said that doctors are supposed to allow a female attendant in the examination room while attending to a female patient, no such rule has been prescribed for lab technicians.

Mumbai : While doctors examining a woman patient are bound by rules to keep a female attendant or a relative of the patient in the examination room, no such rules exist for lab technicians who operate X-Ray machines and other scans.

This is the reason why there are so many cases of alleged molestation against lab technicians. In one of the similar cases, a 48-year-old ward boy was arrested after he molested a female patient in the X-ray
department at St George Hospital in Fort in August, 2012. He was transferred out of the hospital after the incident.
The latest one is at Nair hospital on Wednesday, where Vijay Ram Kurhade was arrested for molesting a 17-year-old girl.
While Medical Council of India has settled rules of precautions that the doctors are supposed to follow while attending to a female patient, no such rule has been prescribed for lab technicians.
If the medical practitioner is found to be guilty of committing professional misconduct, the appropriate medical council may award the necessary punishment or may direct the removal altogether or for a specified period.
Also, according to the rule, the removal will be widely publicised in local press as well as in the publications of different medical associations, societies and bodies. However, no such rule exists for the lab technicians.
“When a doctor is attending to a female patient, he is supposed to have a female attendant, nurse, a female relative or husband of the patient around. However, strangely there are no settled rules for lab technicians even when the hospitals get large numbers of cases of molestation committed by them,” said Dr Jayesh Lele, secretary of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
Doctors also said that, unlike their case, female attendants cannot accompany the patient during radiological tests as they are vulnerable to the rays.
“Their reproductive cycle can get affected if they will be exposed to the radiation on a regular basis which is why we do not have any female laboratory physicians in the hospitals,” said Dr Suleiman Merchant, Head of Radiology department, Sion Hospital.
The doctors also said that female members can accompany the patient during the procedure as even if they would be exposed to the radiation it would be for a short period. “That is alright for three to four times. So, a rule must be prescribed under which a female member must accompany the patient for tests,” said Dr Lele.
The private hospital said that they follow a standard procedure under which they explain the patient beforehand about the procedure and how it will be carried out.
“A female attendant briefs the patient about
everything that the procedure is going to involve. So, they have an idea on what is happening. This way even the laboratory physician cannot take the liberty of innocence or unawareness of the patients,” said
Dr Sonali Maniyar, radiologist, Fortis Hospital,
Dr Merchant added that a proper surveillance system should be formed under which such cases can be reported easily without any hesitation from the patient’s part and swift and speedy action can be taken.
“The numbers of such cases will undoubtedly come down as they will have the fear of losing job, facing punishment, arrest and even reputation,” said Dr Merchant.
Also the doctors insisted that the hospitals must keep on checking records of lab technicians from time to time making sure that they are following proper conduct.
“This will also install feeling of fear in these lab technicians. Many a times they are not concerned about the consequences of their action as they know that no body is keeping an eye on them,” said Dr Lele.

 Swati Jha

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