According to NMC’s new regulations, doctors and their families must not receive any gifts, travel facilities, hospitality, cash or access to recreation from pharma companies or their representatives, commercial healthcare establishments and medical device firms under any pretext.
The ‘Regulations relating to Professional Conduct of Registered Medical Practitioners”, issued earlier this month, also bar doctors from endorsing any drug brands, medicine and equipment or advertise them.
As per the regulations, any request for medical records to a registered medical practitioner (RMP) responsible for patient records in a hospital either by the patients or 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.
Doctors have always played an essential role in society including the times when the world was grappling with COVID-19 pandemic. However, over the years, due to an overburdened healthcare system, coupled with increasing commercialisation of healthcare, mistrust and suspicion on medical services are becoming narratives surrounding healthcare.
A doctors’ body in Kashmir on last doctor’s day said that commercialization of the medical profession has created mistrust among patients about the health system and health care providers.
There are many instances when surgeries are done unnecessarily for “financial gains,” it said and went further by saying that even prescriptions are driven by pharma companies who provide doctors freebies for writing their products.
Failure to take into account patient concerns and expectations has created a “gap between doctors and patients and the gap is widening at an alarming speed,” it said and rightly underlined the need to bridge the gap by taking various measures including by being kind, compassionate and showing empathy towards the patients.
Medical professionals need to uphold ethical principles that govern the interaction between them and patients with a view to give primacy to patient care and the patient’s bodily integrity and autonomy. As has been rightly underlined during a speech in February this year by the incumbent Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, the ultimate goal is to achieve fairness, promote dignity and ensure that people have similar capability to lead healthy lives and contribute to society.
There is also a need to encourage more young people to pursue this noble profession, as well as to strengthen healthcare education so that competent medical professionals come to the forefront and serve humanity.