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MCI de-rosters doctors for 15 days for appearing in hospital ad

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : April 26, 2013 4:34 PM IST

The Medical Council of India (MCI) recently took action against a group of physicians who reportedly appeared in an advertisement released in the hospital they were working in. In all its infinite wisdom, the MCI decided to strike their names from the national and state medical register for 15 days for transgressing the Code of Medical Ethics.

Section 6.1 of the code makes it a crime. According to the code,

'Soliciting of patients directly or indirectly, by a physician, by a group of physicians or by institutions or organisations is unethical. A physician shall not make use of him / her as subject of any form or manner of advertising or publicity through any mode either alone or in conjunction with others which is of such a character as to invite attention to him or to his professional position, skill, qualification, achievements, attainments, specialities, appointments, associations, affiliations or honours and/or of such character as would ordinarily result in his self-aggrandizement. A physician shall not give to any person, whether for compensation or otherwise, any approval, recommendation, endorsement, certificate, report or statement with respect of any drug, medicine, nostrum remedy, surgical, or therapeutic article, apparatus or appliance or any commercial product or article with respect of any property, quality or use thereof or any test, demonstration or trial thereof, for use in connection with his name, signature, or photograph in any form or manner of advertising through any mode nor shall he boast of cases, operations, cures or remedies or permit the publication of report thereof through any mode.

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Basically the code says that a doctor can't advertise he is a doctor nor can a hospital he's employed in say that 'look we have this doctor'. K.V. Babu, a Kerala-based doctor, who has championed the cause of medical ethics, told the Hindu, 'This ruling is very interesting.' He goes on to explain why: 'While we all know that a doctor cannot advertise for himself or herself alone or together with other doctors, as per Section 6.1 of the MCI's Code of Medical Ethics, here, we are being told that it is the duty of individual doctors to inform the hospitals that they would not be a part of any advertisement put out by the hospital.'

In fact, the code has been published on the MCI's website, and doctors are aware that not following the rule would invite censure.

Technically, action should've been taken against the hospital but the MCI has no jurisdiction over them. 'Therefore, the action that the MCI can take when a complaint is preferred is only against individual doctors,' Dr. Jayalal adds.

The implication here is that it's the doctor's job to inform the hospital that he can't appear in the advertisement. The hospitals are free to advertise their services, features and procedures but can't involve the docs there.

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