The story of a video clip showing Ujjain district hospital civil surgeon kissing a woman, possibly a staff nurse was recently reported. The video was reportedly shot inside an operation theatre of the hospital. He has been removed from his post for 'behaviour unbecoming of an officer' and a notice seeking explanation from the senior doctor has also been issued (Source: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ujjain-civil-surgeon-sacked-kissing-video-nurse-1430111-2019-01-13).
The medical profession is regarded as a noble profession and no other profession has been given a similar high status. “Doctors treat, but God heals” is a well-known saying.
Most of us have faith in God and trust that He will do right by us. During any acute emergency or during an illness, patients and/or their families repose the same faith and trust in their doctor.
Hence, doctors are expected to act in a manner befitting their position in the society as also defined by the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002, which provides a framework for standards of professional conduct for doctors.
This action of the said doctor violates not only the code of ethics but also the law of the state.
Regulation 1.1 talks of the character of the physician.
Regulation 1.1.1 says: “A physician to uphold the dignity and honour of his profession.”
Regulation 1.1.2 says: “The prime object of the medical profession is to render service to humanity; reward or financial gain is a subordinate consideration. Who- so-ever chooses his profession, assumes the obligation to conduct himself in accordance with its ideals. He shall keep himself pure in character and be diligent in caring for the sick; he should be modest, sober, patient, prompt in discharging his duty without anxiety; conducting himself with propriety in his profession and in all the actions of his life.”
Regulation 1.2.1 says “The Principal objective of the medical profession is to render service to humanity with full respect for the dignity of profession and man…..”
As per Regulation 2.4 “The Patient must not be neglected: A physician is free to choose whom he will serve. He should, however, respond to any request for his assistance in an emergency. Once having undertaken a case, the physician should not neglect the patient, nor should he withdraw from the case without giving adequate notice to the patient and his family. Provisionally or fully registered medical practitioner shall not willfully commit an act of negligence that may deprive his patient or patients from necessary medical care.”
Doctors not only have a duty towards the public, but also towards the paramedical profession.
Regulation 5.3 Pharmacists / Nurses: “Physicians should recognize and promote the practice of different paramedical services such as, pharmacy and nursing as professions and should seek their cooperation wherever required”.
The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics also says that physicians are expected to uphold professional standards of conduct not only in their relationships with patients, but also in their relationships with other health care professionals (Inter-professional relationships). Opinion 10.4 of the AMA Code of Medical Ethics has described the nature of the relationship between doctors and nurses as follows:
“In light of their shared professional commitments, physicians’ relationships with nurses should be based on mutual respect and trust. As leaders of the health care team, physicians should:
a) Listen respectfully and take seriously the concerns a nurse raises about the physician’s order and explain the order to the nurse and modify if appropriate.
b) Recognize nurses’ professional responsibility not to follow orders that are contrary to good medical practice.
c) Acknowledge that in an emergency situation when the physician is not immediately available, nurses may have a professional obligation to take prompt action contrary to the physician’s order to protect the patient’s health.
d) Seek assistance from the ethics committee or other institutional resource to resolve disagreement in nonemergent situations when disagreement about patient care persists.”
‘Questionable’ personal actions such as this not only undermine the dignity and integrity of the profession and further damage the already fragile doctor-patient relationship but the same are punishable offences under the provisions of Indian Penal Code.
As per Section 294 of IPC, any person who does any obscene act in any public place to the annoyance of others shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 3 months or with fine or with both.
The act of transmitting such obscene material over Whatsapp or in any other electronic form is also a punishable offence under the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000.
As per Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000 any person who publishes or transmits any obscene material in electronic form shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 3 years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 5 Lakhs.
As per Section 67A of Information Technology Act, 2000, any person whop publishes or transmits in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 10 Lakhs.
Doctors look after the health of their patients and also of the community. It is therefore our responsibility to maintain our dignity before the public.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA