A medical council in southern India has threatened to debar doctors advertising the services offered by them. Debarring would mean they cannot practice anymore.
Hair treatment, obesity or a keyhole surgery for the heart. Billboards, TV channels and newspapers in many Indian cities are awash with advertisements offering such services. Many have questioned the ethics behind such ads.
Now the Tamil Nadu State Medical Council in the southern part of the country has taken the first step in curbing such undesirable practices.
The Council - under which every practising doctor in the state is registered -- has shot off notices to all hospitals and nursing homes directing them to abide by the Code of Medical Ethics which bars medical practitioners, a group or institutions from soliciting patients. It has also said printing of photographs in letter heads, signboards of consulting chambers or clinical establishments will be considered as acts of self advertisements.
The violations, according to the Council president Dr K Prakasam, will be considered as "professional misconduct." It is also a gross violation of the Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002.
The Council's executive committee will review the status of publicity by doctors, groups and hospitals in the next three months.
Doctors are free only to advertise their starting practice somewhere, change of address, temporary absence and the like. But nothing more under the code.
"Ethics in medical profession unlike others is an offence. Until some years ago, we never had the culture of advertising hospitals or its services. Today major hospitals have even taken over the road medians for publicity. We will even permanently debar doctors who indulge in such acts. If we find institutions advertising, licences of doctors working in the hospital will be suspended."
He also said that doctors/institutions will not be allowed to boast successes or expertise of any procedures or surgeries through advertisement or other modes of publicity.
Earlier, even Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss had charged many doctors and hospitals were indulging in marketing their services, sometimes even in a gross violation of the Magical Remedies Act that prevents them from promising miracle cures for diseases like diabetes or HIV/AIDS that don't yet have a remedy, Pushpa Narayan writes in the Times of India.