MCI - Code of Medical Ethics

Medical practices in today's world are not the same as they were decades ago. Improper management of technological know-how has lead to several newer diseases and problems. And to handle these problems newer medicines, drugs and newer surgical techniques have been formulated. With the advent of technology, the responsibility to assure that the advances made in this field are used only for the benefit of mankind and for nothing else is laid on the shoulders of the medical professionals.

The medical Council of India is the statuary body set up by Government of India under the Act of Parliament for the recognition of degree/diploma awarded by any medical university or institution.

The salient features of the Regulations are as under.

A. As part of Continuing Medical Education Program a medical doctor is required to participate at least 30 hours every 5 years in the programmes organized by the professional academic bodies.

B. Law now requires that physicians shall display as suffix to their names only recognized medical degrees or such certificates / diplomas and memberships/honours which confer professional knowledge or recognizes any exemplary qualifications/achievements.

C. Although a doctor is not bound to treat each and every patient asking for his service, but in case of emergency a physician must treat the patient. A physician is free to choose whom he will serve. The registered medical practitioner shall not refuse on religious grounds alone to give assistance in or conduct of sterility, birth control, circumcision and medical termination of pregnancy when there is medical indication, unless the medical practitioner feels himself / herself incompetent to do so.

D. A physician should never release the confidential information about patient, unless it is required by the Law of the State.

E. No person other than a doctor having qualification recognized by Medical Council of India and registered with Medical Council of India / State Medical Council(s) is allowed to practice Modern system of Medicine or Surgery (i.e., Allopathy). A person obtaining qualification in any other system of Medicine is not allowed to practice Modern system of Medicine in any form.

F. A registered medical practitioner should write his / her name and designation in full along with registration particulars in his prescription letter head. In Government hospital where the patient-load is heavy, the name of the prescribing doctor must be written below his / her signature.

G. Law of Consent : Before performing an operation the physician should obtain in writing the consent from the husband or wife, parent or guardian in the case of minor, or the patient himself as the case may be. In an operation which may result in sterility the consent of both husband and wife is needed.

H. Unnecessary consultations and investigations both radiological and pathological are prohibited by the law.

I. If a physician posted in rural area or a physician posted in medical college and hospital is found absent on more than two occasions, then Medical Council of India / State Medical Council consider it as misconduct and take the action according to medical council act against the concerned medical doctor.

J. Any medical practitioner having any incapacity detrimental to the patient or which can affect his performance vis-à-vis the patient is not permitted to practice his profession.

K. The registered medical practitioners should not employ any attendant who is neither registered nor enlisted under the Medical Acts.

L. A practicing physician can not act as models in advertisements.

M. A medical doctor should not give, solicit, or receive nor shall he offer to give solicit or receive, any gift, gratuity, commission or bonus in consideration of or return for the referring, recommending or procuring of any patient for medical, surgical or other treatment.

N. Euthanasia: Practicing euthanasia shall constitute unethical conduct. However on specific occasion, the question of withdrawing supporting devices to sustain cardio-pulmonary function even after brain death, shall be decided only by a team of doctors and not merely by the treating physician alone. A team of doctors shall declare withdrawal of support system. Such team shall consist of the doctor in charge of the patient, Chief Medical Officer / Medical Officer in charge of the hospital and a doctor nominated by the in-charge of the hospital from the hospital staff or in accordance with the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organ Act.

O. On no account shall sex determination test be undertaken with the intent to terminate the life of a female foetus developing in her mother's womb, unless there are other absolute indications for termination of pregnancy as specified in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

P. The Regulations of Professional Misconduct cite 24 acts which are considered to be professional misconducts. This list is not exhaustive i.e., to this list may be added other act which the Medical Council of India and the State Medical Council may consider as 'inappropriate' behavior.

Q. Law of Research: Clinical drug trials or other research involving patients or volunteers must be undertaken as per the guidelines of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) provided ethical considerations are borne in mind. Violation of the existing ICMR guidelines in this regard shall constitute misconduct. Consent taken from the patient for trial of drug or therapy which is not as per the guidelines shall also be construed as misconduct.

It is exactly because of frenzied conditions, modern advances have shaped the Bio Ethics which have become absolutely necessity. There must be a code of ethics between doctor-patient, doctor-doctor and even doctor-institution. Good ethical practices will remove the need of the Consumer Protection Act. To inculcate ethics in ones clinical attitude, it must start from the beginning. It must start from the Medical School. This is a universal practice. Some have questioned whether taking the Hippocratic Oath is necessary. We say that, yes! Ministers, Judges, Club President etc. all over the world take an Oath before assuming office. Why shouldn't the doctor - before he embarks on his chosen profession. The medical man must grow up knowing that he has a duty to society and to each other.

For more details about the medical ethics you are requested to see the official website of Medical Council of India http://www.mciindia.org/know/acts/acts.htm

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