As technology advances, it has become a trend that the doctors and the patients in India also switch to the online mode of consultations. The emergence of such online consultation websites and mobile apps has yet again raised questions about the ethics of practice. The Karnataka Medical Council has recently warned doctors who provide treatment through online mode.
“Such consultations are detrimental to both patients as well as the doctor and may lead to many complications, which is nothing but playing with the life of a patient. The KMC can even go to the extent of initiating action (including cancellation of registration) against doctors who take up online consultations,” Veerabhadrappa H., KMC president told “The Hindu”.
Last year, the Indian Medical Association had sought clear-cut guidelines from the Medical Council of India (MCI) on the issue of telephonic medication and online consultations. It was observed that the practice is illegal and unethical.
KMC’s warning was following a complaint filed by the Bangalore Dermatological Society (BDS) on an advertisement published in a newspaper by a tech health services company inviting doctors to join their panel of online consultants.
“Companies are approaching doctors to join their panel for a fee. The more a doctor pays, the bigger he is projected as the best doctor. In fact, many young doctors who are working in corporate hospitals, are being asked to provide online consultations. Some of them may not be able to withstand the pressure by their seniors and hence, may suffer consequences. A history of the ailment and clinical examination is needed to prescribe any medication. Ethically, a doctor can prescribe medication or advise treatment only upon physically seeing a patient and so, telephonic and online consultation is unethical,” said R. Raghunatha Reddy, president of BDS.
The medical council further clarified that merely because technology advanced, it doesn’t suffice to treat patient online, hence not to be executed.

Source: The Hindu, Economic Times Health.

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