Gujarat: Ahmedabad Medical Association files PIL over COVID-19 testing
The Ahmedabad Medical Association has filed a Public interest Litigation (PIL) in the Gujarat High Court over COVID-19 testing in private labs. The petition has been filed against the state's move to prohibit private laboratories from conducting COVID-19 tests without a clearance from nodal health officials. The Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA) has also joined the petition Here are more details.
Dr. Vasant Patel—a member of AHNA's Executive Committee—told ANI, "The Ahmedabad Medical Association has filed a PIL and ANHA has joined the petition." Dr. Patel, who is also the CEO of Dhwani Hospital in Ahmedabad, said the matter will be heard in the Gujarat HC on Friday. On May 22, the HC had directed the government to allow private laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests.
According to the Mirror, the PIL stated, "On May 25, Dr. Aditya Upadhyay, an orthopedic surgeon, passed away at SVP Hospital." It added, "Dr. Upadhyay had contracted the virus while operating upon a patient who was COVID-19 positive, which the doctor or the patient was not aware of as the patient could not be tested due to the restrictions in place."
AMA President Dr. Mona Desai told the Mirror, "We have filed the PIL as the government is yet to act on HC decision even after four days of the order. We can't put ours and patients' lives in jeopardy."
Dr. Patel told ANI, "In Gujarat, particularly Ahmedabad, private doctors in non-COVID hospitals get many patients with COVID-19 symptoms. The Gujarat government has no policy to test patients who we feel might be infected." A COVID-19 test is compulsory before any surgical procedure, he said, citing the Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines. However, he said the government is taking COVID-19 tests "very lightly."
Dr. Patel said, "Why (the government) is doing a lesser number of COVID-19 tests, is still not understood." He said he had applied for permission to conduct a COVID-19 test on a delivery patient on Wednesday, but the same is yet to be granted. He said doctors across Ahmedabad are facing the same issue, adding, "This is policy paralysis in the government of Gujarat."
The ICMR has approved 17 private laboratories in Gujarat, including seven in Ahmedabad, to conduct tests for COVID-19. Reportedly, the state government had earlier opposed testing by private laboratories saying that it may lead to 70% of the population testing positive causing "fear psychosis." Gujarat has conducted over 1.93 lakh tests for COVID-19. The state has reported 15,195 cases with 938 deaths.