Telemedicine has no legal backing, fraternity calls for regulation

The Indian Medical Association has sought clear guidelines from the Medical Council of India on telemedicine.

Published: 17th September 2018 07:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2018 07:18 AM   |  A+A-

Court Hammer

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: A recent Bombay High Court verdict which charged a doctor couple of medical negligence has had a negative impact on the teleconsultation industry, with many doctors interpreting the judgment deeming teleconsultation illegal.

The Indian Medical Association has sought clear guidelines from the Medical Council of India on telemedicine. The court had mentioned, “The medicines were administered on telephonic instructions without even enquiring about the symptoms or nature of the pain suffered by the patient.”

The use of electronic information and communication technologies to provide and support healthcare when distance separates the participants is called telemedicine. There are various telemedicine platforms, where one can consult a doctor online, like DocOnline and 1MG among others.

Dr H Veerabhadrappa, president, Karnataka Medical Council, said, “We are yet to take a stand on telemedicine. Recently, we were approached by the Bangalore Dermatological Society over an online platform run by techies who provide consultation for skin diseases. I have asked the platform to get a legal opinion on telemedicine.”

Dr Sunita Maheshwari, president, Telemedicine Society of Karnataka, said, “Authentic telemedicine platforms are those which take patient history, have a digital stethoscope or dermascope to zoom in on skin lesions. For instance, there’s a nurse on the other end taking blood pressure readings, etc. Those on WhatsApp where the doctors merely get a gist of symptoms from the patient via text is at best second opinion, not telemedicine. It is true that it is unregulated and requires laws to govern it as in the US.”   

“Online consultations, online prescriptions and telemedicine are all topics which have posed ethical dilemmas. But at the same time, advancing technology can be harnessed for augmenting healthcare in remote areas The MCI must come out with clear-cut guidelines on these important issues,” Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, National President  of the IMA, said in a statement.


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