Doctors welcome inclusion of guidelines for social media usage

The draft on RMP Conduct Regulations, 2022, is in the public domain to invite comments on the same from various stakeholders
The 104-page ethics guidelines include two pages with 11 points on the dos and don’ts on social media for doctors (Hindustan Times)
The 104-page ethics guidelines include two pages with 11 points on the dos and don’ts on social media for doctors (Hindustan Times)
Updated on May 25, 2022 10:05 PM IST
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Mumbai Two days after the National Medical Council (NMC) proposed new regulations on the professional conduct of registered medical practitioners (RMP), health activists and doctors welcomed the inclusion of guidelines on social media usage.

The draft on RMP Conduct Regulations, 2022, is in the public domain to invite comments on the same from various stakeholders. The 104-page ethics guidelines include two pages with 11 points on the dos and don’ts on social media for doctors.

Among the many guidelines, the draft said the doctors should not directly or indirectly indulge in the practice of purchasing likes, followers.

Ravi Duggal, a public health researcher and activist, said, “In today’s era, we need strong ethical guidelines for healthcare. There is a lot of work that needs to be done by the NMC to ensure doctors/hospitals behave ethically, especially in the corporate sector.”

The guidelines call the practice of soliciting patients directly or indirectly through social media unethical and discourage sharing of patient testimonials or their recommendations and endorsements on social media. It also discourages doctors from sharing patients’ photographs or scan images (CT, MRI, PET) on social media saying once these images are posted, it loses its discretion.

“This was much needed as in many hospitals, doctors are increasingly engaging in buying likes and followers and pushing patients to give testimonials for them. It is unethical as you are indirectly soliciting other patients and exploiting your patient without them knowing about the same. Many patients these days go to a doctor after doing a Google search. They are not aware that most of the time, what they see on Google is paid. It was, therefore, important to regulate digital media,” said a senior nephrologist practising in South Mumbai.

Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, treasurer of the World Medical Association, said, “It is for the first time that we are making a code of conduct for social media. It is a welcome move. Although, sharing patient results on a closed social media group of concerned specialty physicians should be allowed for better consultation.”

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other associations of doctors, including the association of medical consultants, said that they are studying the fineprints of the draft. “We are going through the draft at present. We have time till June 22 to study and respond with our suggestions and objections,” said Dr Mangesh Pate, secretary, IMA, Maharashtra.

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