Professional misconduct (infamous conduct)
- Professional misconduct can be defined as something done by a doctor in the profession, which is considered as disgraceful and dishonourable by his or her professional brethren of good repute and competence, after the enquiry by the State Medical Council
- Professional misconduct by doctors is governed by The Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002 made under Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act, 1956.
- Currently, Medical Council of India (MCI) is an Appellate Authority in all cases of medical negligence and malpractice by medical professionals referred to it by all State Medical Councils.
As per “The Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002” :
- In cases of professional misconduct, it is open to the MCI and/or State Medical Councils to consider and decide upon the facts of the case.
- The appropriate medical council would hold enquiry and give opportunity to the registered medical practitioner to be heard.
- If found guilty, it may award such punishment described below.
- The complaints should be decided within a period of six months.
- In case SMC concludes that the doctor is guilty of professional misconduct, it takes one of the following actions :
- Warning notice : A written notice is issued for not to repeat his conduct.
- Erasure of name from medical register (penal erasure): It may be (a) temporary (i.e. suspension)for a time limit or permanent (professional death sentence) for rest of the life.
- The convicted medical practioner can appeal to central health ministry against the action taken by SMC, who in consultation with MCI can modify the punishment.
- Medical Council of India (MCI) and the appropriate State Medical Councils have been empowered to take disciplinary action under these regulations. Under disciplinary control the State/Indian Medical Council decides this and depending on the type of misconduct.
There are more than 25 headings under which professional misconduct are listed. Most indictable misconduct in the professional sense comprises of the following:
potential reasons for penal erasure or suspension from the register are limitless. However, a few examples are enumerated below. Each of these is also called as ingredients of professional misconduct and listed under 6 A’s.-
- Association with unqualified persons
- Abortion (illegal)
Apart from these, the councils can also consider any other form of alleged infamous conduct, which is not in the above list for deciding the punishment
1. DICHOTOMY OR FEE SPLITTING
It is wrong and unethical for a medical practitioner to demand or accept a commission for referring a patient to a consultant or specialist. Dichotomy or fee splitting is not only unethical but also illegal. Same thing applies to when doctor sends a patient for various investigations like radiological, pathological etc.
2. ADULTERY OF IMPROPER CONDUCT WITH A PATIENT
A Medial practitioner must maintain honorable code of conduct and highest standard of morality with his/her association with patients of opposite sex or other members of the patient’s family. If the medical practitioner abuses his professional practice by committing adultery of setting up improper association with the patient at the material moment, he is liable to disciplinary action by the medical council.
3. ASSOCIATION WITH UNQUALIFIED OR UNREGISTERED ASSISTANTS
- in his day to day practice by employing them
- assists unqualified practitioner or quack in his private practice in any way-givinggiving anesthesia, attending delivery cases etc).
- Cover up the unqualified practitioner by issuing medical certification of “Ill Heath“ to patients not treated by him self.
MEDICAL STUDENTS, TECHNICIAN, DISPENSERS etc, their training is not an act of professional misconduct.
Canvassing and advertising directly or indirectly to promote private practice is unethical.
- Displaying unusually large signboards depicting anything other than his name, qualification and nature of his specialization (e.g. giving photographs, diagrams of the equipment).
- Displaying signboards at other than at his residence and clinic e.g. at chemists shops, religious places.
- Guaranteeing a cure for certain ailments by notifying in the lay press.
- By publicly exhibiting his scale of fees or refund if not cured.