Friday, 23 June 2017

Adopt a code of conduct while posting on social media

Adopt a code of conduct while posting on social media Recently, Indian Medical Association (IMA) received an email regarding a doctor at Kosmopolitan Charitable Dialysis Center (Mumbai) threatening to "chuck out" Hindu patients and letting them die in a post on social media (Facebook). We asked Team IMA Maharashtra to immediately form a three member committee and visit the dialysis center to find out the details and credentials of Aneeqa Ghani. The said person is not a member of the IMA or registered with the Maharashtra Medical Council. An inquiry needs to be conducted to establish if the person is a genuine doctor or a quack and whether the person is a qualified Allopathic doctor or an Ayush doctor? If not, then in what capacity is she working in the Dialysis center? View IMAGE - http://emedinews.org/2017/122.jpg The matter has been referred to the Maharashtra Medical Council and the Medical Council of India (MCI). Our laws do not allow discrimination on the grounds of religion to anybody and have made it a punishable offence. As doctors, we have a duty to treat all patients equally. Regulation 7.15 of the MCI Code of Ethics Regulations has said as follows: “The registered medical practitioner shall not refuse on religious grounds alone to give assistance in or conduct of sterility, birth control, circumcision and medical termination of Pregnancy when there is medical indication, unless the medical practitioner feels himself/herself incompetent to do so.” Doctors are expected to abide by the Declaration signed at the time of making an application for registration under the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act, which says, “I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient (d).” Freedom of religion is guaranteed under Article 15 ‘Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth’ and also Article 25 ‘Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion’ of the Constitution of India. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) also has provisions pertaining to offences relating to religion under Section 153A and Section 295A. Section 153A IPC. “Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. (1) Whoever— (a) by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or (b) commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquillity,… shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.” Section 295A IPC. “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.” Individuals who impersonate as ‘doctors’ endanger the lives of people who trust them with their care. This is why IMA is demanding a stringent Central anti-quackery law and punishment for quacks. As a doctor, such statements violate the spirit of the ethics of the medical profession. Beneficence i.e. for the benefit of others; for doctors ‘others’ means our patients, and nonmaleficence (do no harm) are the basic principles of bioethics that govern the practice of medicine. Regulation 1.1.2 of the MCI Code of Ethics Regulations says, “… Who- so-ever chooses his profession, assumes the obligation to conduct himself in accordance with its ideals. A physician should be an upright man, instructed in the art of healings. 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.” In addition to the legal implications, this story also underscores the importance of etiquettes or adopting a code of conduct while posting on social media. One should refrain from posting personal or derogatory comments on public online platforms such as Facebook. Post any story or comments responsibly using sound judgement. Despite the existence of privacy options, many items published in social media are publicly accessible. Assume that no sites are fully private. Be polite and respectful of others opinions, especially when discussions become heated. Also, be aware that inappropriate conduct can negatively affect your reputation and put you in legal trouble. Before posting any story or comment, always ask yourself “Is it the truth; is it necessary and will it bring happiness to me and the others”. If the answer to any of these questions is no, then do not post it.

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