The National Medical Commission has permitted medical practitioners to refuse treatment in cases of abusive and violent patients or relatives, as reported by the news agency PTI. This is a step taken to check for instances of violence against doctors. However, they must ensure that the patient is not abandoned. The National Medical Commission (NMC) in the Professional Conduct Regulations also prohibits doctors from endorsing any drug brand, medicine, or equipment or advertising them.
According to the regulations issued by the NMC in a gazette notification, “In case of abusive, unruly, and violent patients or relatives, the RMP can document and report the behaviour and refuse to treat the patient. Such patients should be referred for further treatment elsewhere,” as quoted by PTI. The regulations also specified that the use of alcohol or other intoxicants during or off duty that can affect professional practice will be considered misconduct.
RMPs (registered medical practitioners) and their families must not receive any gifts, travel facilities, hospitality, cash or monetary grants, consultancy fees or honorariums, or access to entertainment or recreation from pharmaceutical companies or their representatives, commercial healthcare establishments, medical device companies, or corporate hospitals under any pretext.
However, the regulations also stated that this does not include salaries and benefits that they may receive as employees of these organisations. Also, RMPs are not allowed to be involved in any third-party educational activity like a seminar, workshop, symposia, or conference that includes direct or indirect sponsorships from pharmaceutical companies or the allied health sector.
“RMP individually, or as part of an organisation/association, shall not give to any person or to any companies or to any products or to software/platforms, whether for compensation or otherwise, any approval, recommendation, endorsement… concerning any drug brand, 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…” the regulations said, as quoted by PTI.
The regulations state that a reasonable estimation of the cost of surgery or treatment should be provided to the patient to enable an informed decision. Consultation fees should be made known to the patient before examination or treatment.
“RMP can refuse to treat or continue to treat a patient if the fees, as indicated, are not paid. At the same time, this does not apply to doctors in government service or emergencies, but the doctor must ensure that the patient is not abandoned,” the regulations stated, as quoted by PTI. According to the regulations, the registered medical practitioner who attends to the patient will be fully accountable for his actions and entitled to the appropriate fees.
According to the regulations, any request for medical records to a RMP responsible for patient records in a hospital, either by the patients or an authorised attendant, has to be duly acknowledged, and documents have to be supplied within five working days instead of the existing provision of 72 days. In cases of medical emergencies, efforts should be made to make the medical records available as soon as possible.
The regulations stated that efforts shall be made to computerise patients medical records for quick retrieval and security. Within three years from the date of publication of these regulations, the RMP shall ensure fully digitised records, abiding by the provisions of the IT Act, data protection and privacy laws, or any other applicable laws, rules, and regulations notified from time to time for protecting the privacy of the patient.
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