The Medical and Dental Council (MDC) will from June, this year introduce a unique self-inking stamp for doctors to ensure that their services, including prescriptions, are traceable within the health system.
The stamp will have features such as the name of a practitioner, designation, MDC registration number, facility name, signature and date.
The measure is in response to the lack of a system to track prescriptions, medical reports and requests for laboratory investigations to a particular practitioner, thus creating room for insurance fraud.
The Registrar of the council, Dr E. K. Attikpui, who announced this in Accra yesterday, said the stamp would cover all practitioners registered and licensed by the Medical and Dental Council to improve quality, safety of care and polypharmacy (the concurrent use of multiple medications by a patient.)
Dr Attikpui was speaking at a stakeholders meeting organised by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to discuss issues that would make the country’s premier insurance policy efficient and sustainable.
He said the stamp to be supplied by the council, would have a security feature which would make it difficult for it to be cloned or forged.
With more than 7,000 doctors and more than 3,500 physician assistants on its books, Dr Attikpui explained that the document stamp would only be valid if the practitioner was in good standing with the Medical and Dental Council.
“The number of medical doctors, dental surgeons, physician assistants and certified registered anaesthetists in the country has increased significantly in the last decade and resources available to the Medical and Dental Council to track their practice at all levels are becoming a challenge. The quality of care could be compromised,” he said.
Dr Attikpui cited instances where some doctors issued prescriptions that were wrong but because they failed to sign the prescription form or faked signatures, it was difficult to identify the culprit after a misdiagnosis occurred.
Dr Attikpui said the stamp when used by practitioners deemed not fit to practise, would attract sanctions.
Touching on responsibilities, he said while it would be the responsibility of the council to design, develop and produce the stamps, keep a register and also cater for replacing all lost, defaced and damaged stamps, it would be the duty of the practitioners to keep the stamp safe and prevent unauthorised access to it.
For health facilities, he said they would request for the stamps from the council and distribute them, ensure the proper usage of the stamps, report in writing to the MDC the loss of a stamp within 48 hours for replacement, and also ensure that the stamp was returned to the MDC in case of suspension of the user from office, the practitioner leaving the facility or upon the death of a practitioner.
Speaking at the event, a Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu, said an issue of great concern for the survival of the NHIS was how to collectively eliminate or significantly reduce the incidence of unauthorised fees that were charged to NHIS members by accredited healthcare providers.
He said the act had the potential to undermine the real essence of the scheme which he described as laudable.
The deputy minister said many poor people depended on the NHIS, as it absolved them from the financial burden associated with health care, especially at the primary level, stressing that it was necessary, therefore, that the beneficiaries were not failed.