Sunday, 9 April 2017

Vedic Ethics: Chapter 5

Vedic Ethics: Chapter 5 Even the dead deserve respect and dignity The MCI Code of Ethics Regulations require all medical health care providers to respect and honor the dignity of every person. Recently the Uttarakhand High Court ruled the rivers Ganges and Yamuna as living entities. As per the Indian Medical Association (IMA), even after death, a person should be treated as a living entity till his/her body mixes with the five basic elements of the nature. It is also a fact that even after death, the cornea can be transplanted for up to 72 hours and the bones can be preserved for years in the Bone bank. IMA feels that dignity of a dead body needs to be honored by doctors at the time of death. No dead body can be put on hold on the grounds of non-payment. Dissection of the human cadaver is a fundamental part of training of doctors. All specialties of medicine require a knowledge of the human anatomy. Dissection allows a student to directly see and touch the intricate structure of the human body, the various organs, muscles, bones, etc., or its various anomalies, which no digital technology can simulate, however advanced it may be. This visual imprint on the mind perhaps stays on for life. Medicine is not all science; it is not just about being able to interpret lab reports, or read an x-ray or CT scans etc. or prescribing medicines. Doctors have been regarded as next to God since Vedic times and no other profession has been accorded the same exalted status as that of the medical doctor. This places a responsibility on the doctors to nurture the doctor-patient relationship, based on trust and mutual respect. Doctors should be compassionate, empathetic, and courteous and respect the dignity of the patients, their privacy and confidentiality. These are qualities that can be inculcated in doctors, right from the first day, they enter a medical college to begin their education. When a medical student enters a dissection hall for the first time, he/she may experience a mix of different emotions... anxiety, stress or even excitement in taking that first step towards being a real doctor. It is important to cultivate in them respect for the cadaver or the dead human body. While they teach us the anatomy of the human body, they can also teach us ‘humane’ qualities, which will make a medical student, a good doctor later on. These cadavers were once living persons, just like us. Disrespecting them means disrespecting the dead person. Many cadavers would have been voluntarily donated during a person’s lifetime. This is a gesture that is truly selfless and altruistic, made for research for advancement of medicine or training of medical students, the future doctors. Or, the body may have been donated after death by the family or legal heirs to teaching institutions. It is therefore important to respect the family that has suffered an irreversible loss. Disrespecting the cadaver would mean disrespecting the family of the dead person. After they have been used, the cadavers are usually buried, without any rituals. There should be a funeral service for the used cadavers with all rituals as an act of respect. Students should take a ‘Cadaveric oath’ on their first day in the dissection hall before starting the dissection. The same is true while doing medicolegal or pathological autopsy. Every dead body (cadaver) used in the Dept. of Anatomy needs to be treated with dignity and all need to follow IMA Cadaveric rituals which includes IMA Cadaveric Oath, daily Cadaveric rituals and last rites rituals performed on the cadaver by the students who are engaged in the dissection process. On 13th August, 2017 at 12:00 Noon, IMA in association with Sharada University is planning a Cadaver Last rituals ceremony at VIP Counter, Nigam Bodh Ghat, Delhi. The ceremony would be attended by all the medical students who used the cadaver for dissection in their anatomy classes. The ceremony would also be attended by IMA officials and important doctors of the medical fraternity and some of the celebrities. The IMA Cadaveric Oath (as below) will also be inaugurated. “I … do solemnly pledge that I will always respect the cadaver. I will always treat the cadaver with dignity. I will be compassionate towards the cadaver. I will respect the privacy and confidentiality of the cadaver. I will be grateful to the cadaver and/or their family or legal heir/s for the gift of knowledge. I will be altruistic and use my knowledge for the service of society.” Dr KK Aggarwal National President, IMA & HCFI (Contributions from Dr RN Tandon, HSG, IMA)

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