Ethics for Pathologists: ‘Most quacks created, blessed by medical practitioners’

Published: May 12, 2012

" According to a 1970 survey, there were around 600 labs in Lahore being run by unqualified people. No such survey has been taken recently," Prof AH Nagi, head of the Pathology Department at the UHS.


Employment of unqualified medical laboratory professionals is the greatest challenge to professional ethics speakers at a seminar on Ethics for Pathologists said on Friday.

The seminar was organised by the College of Pathologists Pakistan (CPP) as a part of the Annual National Pathology Week (May 7-13).

“It is unfortunate to see that the profession has been taken over by people who practice without proper laboratory facilities and without supervision or surveillance,” Prof IA Naveed, the University of Health Sciences (UHS) acting vice chancellor, said.

He said observing the highest standards of integrity and ethical principles was essential for all professionals.

He called for strict surveillance of laboratories by the relevant supervisory agencies.

Prof Naveed said that most pathologists had not so far paid much attention to whether they might have ethical problems that differed from those of clinicians, and how these might be resolved.

“The ethical problems of pathologists lie mainly in the conflict between moral obligations to the responsible clinician and to the index patient being investigated,” he said, adding that there was an ethical aspect to almost all aspects of laboratory medicine practice.

Prof Naveed lauded the efforts of the president and other members of the CPP for soming up with a code of ethics for the practitioners.

Prof AH Nagi, head of the Pathology Department at the UHS, also spoke at the event. He said quackery in pathology was frequently “created and blessed” by medical practitioners.

He said many medical practitioners had set up pathology laboratories that were relying on most unqualified technicians.

He said most of such laboratories were associated with several private hospitals and clinics and the technicians were projected intentionally as pathologists.

Quoting from a 1970 survey, Prof Nagi said there were around 600 laboratories in Lahore being run by quacks or unqualified people.

He regretted that no such survey had been taken recently.  He also stressed the need for rigorous self-accountability.

He discussed some articles of the Code of Ethics drafted by the College of Pathologists Pakistan and called for more comprehensive ethical guidelines regarding use of animals for research to be incorporated in the document.

Prof Asim Mumtaz of the Shalamar Medical College; and Dr Saqib Mahmood, the UHS Allied Health Sciences Department head; also addressed the event attended by faculty members and postgraduate students.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2012.

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