“No doctor can make high claims about any procedure.”
Soliciting of patients directly or indirectly by medical professionals is unethical under the Medical Council of India (MCI) Rules and Regulations.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has issued a Press Release earlier this year to all its 2.5 lakh members warning them not to advertise “No Cure No Payment” or “Guaranteed Cure” stating both are violations of Medical Council of India (MCI) Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002 as well as Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.
According to Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, advertisements by doctors are prohibited in any media. The Code of Ethics laid down by Medical Council of India states that advertisements or promises of “Guaranteed Treatment” cannot be made by doctors.
The Press Release comes in the wake of the ongoing case against a doctor couple running an In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) clinic in Mumbai whose licenses were suspended by the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC). The Advertising Standards Council of India had filed a complaint against a doctor couple with MMC in 2014. The MMC has suspended the licenses of that doctor couple for three months for putting up advertisements following complaints that they were promised guaranteed pregnancy on their clinic website and even offered refund if the treatment failed, which is a violation of medical ethics under the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002.
Madhya Pradesh Medical Council (MPMC) has also issued warning notices to city’s nearly 50 prominent doctors for advertising and promoting their skills. The action was taken on the complaints lodged with the Council against the doctors. MPMC is a quasi-judicial body that works as a watchdog for the medical profession. Council’s Chairman, Dr G S Patel said, “It is unethical that doctors are advertising their skills through various means. They are regularly featuring themselves in advertisements claiming to cure infertility, diabetes, obesity and other conditions. Summons have been issued to warn that such activities cannot be tolerated.”
The Tamil Nadu Medical Council, in May, 2016, took a resolution warning doctors against advertising online. The Council is asking all doctors to withdraw their names from online registries, and remove any advertisements with their names, photographs, speciality and contact details, as this violates the Medical Council of India’s Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002.
Last Year, Maharashtra Medical Council had issued show-cause notices to 40 doctors for putting up advertisements on print, TV and social media. After a hearing, some doctors were issued warning letters and some were suspended. The Medical Council of India too had taken suo moto action against many Delhi hospitals for putting up advertisements.
Delhi Medical Association Member Dr. Anil Bansal maintained that these advertisements by large hospitals hits small medical units and private practitioners who aren’t with these establishments. “The power of advertising can’t be underestimated and it does create an impression that private hospitals are better and offer more than what is available at Government established hospitals, which may not be the case always. Doctors and hospitals announcing successful surgeries, procedures etc, though informative, are also surrogate advertising. Medical advertisement rules need to be re-looked into.”
WHAT IS ALLOWED
As per the Medical Council of India (MCI) Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002, a doctor is permitted to advertise regarding the following:
- A medical practitioner is however permitted to make a formal announcement in press regarding the following:
- On starting practice.
- On change of type of practice.
- On changing address.
- On temporary absence from duty.
- On resumption of another practice.
- On succeeding to another practice.
- Public declaration of charges.
- An institution run by a Doctor for a particular purpose such as a maternity home, nursing home, private hospital, rehabilitation centre or any type of training institution can be advertised mentioning the name of the institution, type of patients admitted, type of training and other facilities offered and the fees.
- A clinic should contain only name, qualifications, name of medical college, name of university, titles and name of speciality, and state medical council registration number.
The Indian Lawyer and Allied Services