Doctors Day special: Legal and ethical aspects governing the medical profession

01 July, 2016

The field of ethics studies principles of right and wrong. There is hardly an area in medicine that doesn't have an ethical aspect. The medical profession was, is and will always remain a noble one. The job of doctor is to help reduce suffering.
The first oath that a doctor takes upon entering the profession is: 'A physician shall uphold the dignity and honor of his profession' and the first declaration they make is 'I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to service of humanity'.


However in today's day and age, we witness a high degree of commercialization in the medical field. Cases of medical negligence, unethical promotion and misconduct are not uncommon. This has brought the entire medical profession into question. What we must remember is that there are black sheep in every profession and without trust and belief in the system of medicine, it is not possible for a doctor to effectively do his duty of helping save lives.



Speaking about the sameDr KK Aggarwal, President HCFI said in a statement, "We are committed to making the medical system in our country more transparent and efficient. It is for this reason that we constantly strive to educate member of the medical fraternity about the ethics that govern the profession. We urge the entire medical fraternity to abide by the MCI regulations and maintain the nobility of the profession. We also urge the public to understand that doctors' work towards the benefit of the society and they must be trusted. The increasing incidence of violence against doctors, no cap on compensation in cases of medical negligence cases as well as the enforcement of acts such as the PCPNDT act only deter doctors from doing their job of saving lives effectively. Doctors must be respected and trusted."


The Medical Council of India states terms like pardon, warning and censure for different cases of mild human negligence by Doctors where the council can give a second chance to the doctors without ruining their medical career. However, these should be applied in cases involving no criminal offence. 

Calculating from the shortage of doctors in every hospital in respect to the number of patients, a doctor at an average gets 5 minutes per patient. In these 5 minutes, he is required to wash his/her hands twice - before and after checking the patient, take the entire medical history of the patient, examine them in an effective manner and prescribe the relevant treatment. 

In just 5 minutes, mis-communication and mistakes are bound to happen. It is crucial that more focus is laid on increasing the number of seats for medical professionals, regularly training doctors through CMEs on new treatments and diseases as well as encouraging more people to enter the profession.

Adding to this, Dr Arun Gupta, President Delhi Medical Council said, "Indulging in unethical acts leads to the defamation of the whole profession. It is the responsibility of all medical professionals to adhere to their ethics and for patients to respect their doctors."

Dr. Girish Tyagi, Registrat Delhi Medical Council said, "10-20% of the complaints received by the Council pertain to the violation of ethics. Over 90% of the medical negligence cases are the result of the shortage of doctors as well as mis-communication not only between doctor-patient but also between patient-counselor and patient-chemist."

A few tips for doctors to safeguard themselves against cases of medical negligence

  1. Doctors should communicate properly and be empathetic towards the patients.

  2. Conversations between doctors and patients should be video taped for future references.

  3. Consent form should be crisp and precise so that terms and conditions are clearly understood by the patients to avoid any confusions.

  4. In cases where a MLC is to be made the police should be informed at the earliest.