Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Do not give your signature to anyone

Doctors tend to allow their names and signatures to be used by labs, ultrasound centers and imaging centers for a fee. They pre-sign lab reports, fitness certificates, sickness certificates without actually having seen the patient or the specimen to be tested, leaving the data to be filled in by another person.

This “selling” of signatures is not only a professional misconduct liable to disciplinary proceedings before the medical council, but is also breaking the law punishable under the Indian Penal Code under Section 191 “Giving false evidence”, Section 192 “Fabricating false evidence”. And if this document is presented in the Court during any stage of judicial proceeding, the punishment is imprisonment for up to seven years along with fine, as per Section 193 “Punishment for false evidence”.

The Supreme Court in the case of Martin F D' Souza vs Mohd Ishfaq in 2009 also had said, “No prescription should ordinarily be given without actual examination.” In the same judgement, the Apex Court also advised against telephonic consultations stating “The tendency to give prescription over the telephone, except in an acute emergency, should be avoided.”

Actions have been taken by the State Medical Councils, the Maharashtra Medical Council and Delhi Medical Council, in such instances.

For doctors, the interests of the patient are above all. Ethical earning is a part of ethical medicine. The MCI Code of Ethics Regulations has clearly banned fee splitting including any other rebates and commissions (Regulation 6.4.1). “A physician shall not directly or indirectly, participate in or be a party to act of division, transference, assignment, subordination, rebating, splitting or refunding of any fee for medical, surgical or other treatment. “These are unethical practices.  And the money earned by way of these practices, is unethical earning.

Recently, the Medical Council of India has issued a directive stating that “All lab reports are to be signed/countersigned by persons registered with MCI/State Medical Council”.

Doctors, even MBBS doctors, should be very careful about giving their signatures, either on paper or even electronic or digital signatures, allowing them to be used in any such establishment. It is vulnerable to misuse, as is also your name. 

Doctors are required to inform the police if their stamp is lost. Keep the record of the complaint with you.

Keep your signature safe. Do not give your signature to anyone.

Dr KK Aggarwal

National President IMA & HCFI

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