The Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench has ordered medical laboratories that perform RT-PCR tests to send test results to patients through WhatsApp in addition to sending a hard copy. Before exchanging a study with a patient, labs do not need to wait for it to be submitted to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) site.
A suo moto public interest litigation on the rising Covid cases has been heard by the bench of Justice Z A Haq and Justice Amit B Borkar. During the hearing, an intervenor, Dr. Mukesh Chandak, pointed out to the court the problems patients face in obtaining RT-PCR test results.
The pause in patients receiving records, according to Dr Mukesh Chandak, is due to laboratories refusing to provide reports until they have been submitted to the ICMR portal. He noted that the internet portal can be unreliable at times, causing delays in the posting of reports.
The lawyers for the plaintiffs recommended that the patients' results, whether positive or unfavourable, be made available to them right away, rather than delaying delivery of any those reports because they hadn't been submitted to the ICMR site.
"As far as submitting information to the ICMR site is concerned, of course it should be done because the data is critical for the concerned Government and Authorities to take effective decisions and actions in the matter," the advocates said.
Before dismissing the petition, the High Court ordered that the laboratories make the reports available to patients through WhatsApp as well as supplying them with a hard copy.
In addition, the court has ordered that reports from patients who test positive be submitted to the ICMR portal within 24 hours, and reports from patients who test negative be uploaded to the ICMR portal within 7 days.
The court went on to say that if the laboratories do not follow these instructions, the authorities would be able to take punitive measures against them.
The court said, "This agreement shall continue until further orders."