Tamil Nadu Medical Council (TNMC) has begun issuing certificates that carry details of practitioners along with an encryption that can be verified by patients using an app in their smartphones.
The certificates carrying the doctor's photo, name, registration number and field of specialization will have to be exhibited in the clinics. Patients can also take a picture of the code provided in the certificate and use Q R Reader app to verify the doctor's credentials.
‘Doctors can avail these certificates by logging into the state medical council's website. This initiative may help in tracking down fake doctors in the country.’
"We have also started an SMS service wherein the public can note down the doctor's name and registration number and send a text to 56767. If the doctor is registered with the council, the patient can access his or her details. If not, a complaint can be filed," said Dr P Balakrishnan, president of TNMC.
According to the Indian Medical Council Act 1956, all medical practitioners must register with the Indian Medical Register maintained by the Medical Council of India before starting practice.
Currently, 1.3 lakh doctors are registered with the council. According to an estimate by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), a voluntary organization of doctors, there are more than 3,000 quacks practising across Tamil Nadu.
"When they register with the council, they give their genuine degrees, but their name plates in clinics carry additional degrees, which are fraudulent. They also claim to specialize in other forms of treatment, which may not be clinically proven. This will help us keep a tab on such practitioners too," said Dr R V S Surendran, president of the Tamil Nadu chapter of IMA.
Senior doctors say the threat of quacks is higher in rural areas in the state. "Not everyone in the village can access a smartphone. The council needs to come up with something innovative that caters to them," said Dr G R Ravindranath, general secretary of Doctors' Association for Social Equality. He estimated that at least 40% of the patients in rural areas are treated by quack.