NEW DELHI: The rules under which doctors in the country are penalised for medical negligence and ethical violations are set to be “refined and updated.
The ethics committee under the Medical Council of India-Board of Governors that governs the professional conduct of nearly 11 lakh practitioners of modern medicine has prepared a draft underlining the new norms which will be incorporated in the Indian Medical Council Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002.
While the regulations have largely remained the same, the committee is trying to specify the errors and liabilities of doctors and what punishment can be given in which situation.
“We are seeking the opinion of state medical councils before it’s put up for public feedback,” said Dr B N Gangadhar, director, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Bengaluru, who heads the committee.
“The need to update the existing rules was felt in view of the changing times and circumstances,” he also said.
The seven-page guideline that will be in addition to the 2002 regulations tries to bring in uniformity in action taken against doctors in various cases by state medical councils.
“We are trying to establish that the level of punishment for similar professional and ethical errors is the same across the country,” Dr Hans Raj Bawaja, a member of the committee, told this newspaper.
There is also an issue of variation in timeline between state medical councils. “While some councils are fast in disposing of cases, in some other states similar cases linger on for years,” Dr Baweja added.
While there is no data available in public domain on the cases in which actions were taken against doctors, an oversight committee appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee its functioning had noted: “..the oversight of professional conduct is the most important function of the MCI. However, the MCI has been completely passive on the ethics dimension, which is evident from the fact that between 1963 and 2009, just 109 doctors have been blacklisted…”
State medical councils, it seems, fare even worse. In response to an RTI query in 2015, for example, Bihar medical council had said that in previous five years, the maximum punishment ‘given’ was warnings to 5 doctors in 33 cases of medical negligence.