Published: 26th May 2022
NMC's draft regulations may bring drastic changes for aspiring medicos. Here's what they are
Apart from adding the prefix 'Med Dr' to medical professionals, the recommendations also place a check on doctors practicing more than one stream of medicine
The Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB), on May 23, released the draft of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Registered Medical Practitioner (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2022, to address a wide range of issues of registered medical practitioners (RMPs). The Board has elicited views and comments from stakeholders, the last date for which is June 22. The NMC regulates medical education and medical professionals in India. It replaced the Medical Council of India (MCI) on September 25, 2020. An RMP is a person whose name is either in the State Medical Register or Indian Medical Register or National Medical Register.
Apart from explaining the code of conduct of RMPs, one of the most significant changes proposed by the Council is the addition of ‘Med Dr’ as a prefix to those RMPs who are registered under the NMC Act, 2019, as practitioners of modern medicine or Allopathy alone. There is also a caveat for doctors who have studied medicine overseas and are practicing in India. “RMPs qualified abroad and seeking registration to practice after clearing Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE)/National Exit Test (NEXT) must use NMC-approved equivalent medical prefixes and suffixes to provide clarity to patients and the public. An RMP shall not claim to be a clinical specialist unless he/she has NMC recognised training and qualification in that specific branch of modern medicine,” the Council has stated.
“We have received a number of complaints about doctors who practice more than one stream of medicine. Under the new guidelines, all RMPs registered with NMC or State Medical Council (SMC) should add ‘Med Dr’ as a prefix to their names to show that they only practice modern medicine or Allopathy,” said Dr Yogender Malik, member, EMRB. He added that the NMC draft regulations succeed the guidelines made by the MCI in 2002. “This is a draft in the public domain for one month for all stakeholders such as doctors, patient groups, experts and various associations and organisations to give their feedback,” said Malik.
The proposed regulations address a wide range of issues of RMPs — from registration to professional duties, responsibilities towards their patients and healthcare professionals, remuneration, prescription of generic medicines as against branded drugs, prohibition on commission, self-promotion and advertisement, issuance of medical reports and the issue of professional misconduct. While an RMP can refuse to continue to treat a patient if the fees, as indicated (by him/ her earlier) are not paid (not applicable to doctors in government service or emergencies), the doctor cannot abandon the patient. The NMC has warned of strict action against any violation of rules. “Conviction of RMPs in cases of cognisable offence involving moral turpitude may result in the suspension of license to practice,” the Council has cautioned.
The issue of telemedicine is explained in great detail in the draft rules. A lot of emphasis has also been placed upon continuous professional development (CPD) and the linkage of CPD points of RMPs to the renewal of license by the EMRB or SMC. CPD has replaced Continuing Medical Education (CME), which consisted of educational activities which served to maintain and enhance the professional performance of a physician.
There are, however, some hiccups in the draft rules, which while explaining the importance of patient consent in treatment have included the consent of a couple on the issue of sterilisation. “In the case of operative procedures which may result in permanent sterilisation, it is prudent to take informed consent from both the patient and spouse, unless denial of consent could put the lives of patients in danger,” said the regulations. The inclusion of a husband’s consent in such cases may threaten to legitimise the loss of a woman’s right over her reproductive health.