Doctors Can Refuse To Treat In Case Of Unruly Patients, Say New NMC Regulations

14 Aug 2023 • Doctors can now refuse treatment to the unruly and violent patients and in such cases, the doctors have been told to follow a procedure of properly documenting and reporting the said violence, their refusal and referral of the patient to other health facilities, noted the National Medical Commission’s (NMC) gazette notification, which notified the NMC Registered Medical Practitioner (Professional Conduct) Regulations 2023.

These regulations prescribe a code of ethics mandatorily to be adopted by every practitioner of modern medicine who is registered under the NMC Act and is practising in the country.

The National Medical Commission Registered Medical Practitioner RMP (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2023 will replace the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) Code of Medical Ethics 2002. These new regulations have been enforceable since August 2, 2023, the date of their publication in the official gazette.

RIGHT TO CHOOSE "The RMP who attends to the patient will be fully accountable for his actions and entitled to the appropriate fees. 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.”

  • Moreover, the doctors can also refuse to treat patients if the agreed-upon fees are not paid in lieu of treatment. This said provision, however, will not be applicable to government doctors or in case of emergencies.

Professional conduct of registered medical practitioners

  • The regulations issued on August 2, bar doctors from endorsing any drug brands, medicine and equipment.
  • This would restrict doctors and their families from receiving 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.
  • They should not be involved in any third-party educational activity like CPDs, seminars, workshops, symposia, conferences, which involves direct or indirect sponsorships from pharmaceutical companies or the allied health sector.

The NMC in its 'Regulations relating to Professional Conduct of Registered Medical Practitioners' also asked doctors to avoid prescribing branded generic drugs. "Every RMP (registered medical practitioner) should prescribe drugs using generic names written legibly and prescribe drugs rationally, avoiding unnecessary medications and irrational fixed-dose combination tablets," the regulation stated.

On repeated violations, the doctor's license to practice may be suspended for a particular period, the regulations said.

Source: NMC | Click to download pdf

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