Med bodies to focus on mental health

Doctors will now have to be more updated on mental health issues of patients. Medical bodies are set to implement new measures to upgrade doctors’ knowledge on mental health issues, ethical and legal obligations of the fraternity.

The measures come at a time when doctors have attracted flak for “unethical practices” from time to time. Several doctors recently have been accused of joining hands with pharmaceutical companies and also asking patients to go for unnecessary diagnostic services.

The Indian Medical Association will soon instruct heads of associations of the 29 state branches and 1,700 local branches to reserve 10 per cent time of all lectures for medical professionals to touch upon counselling, ethical and legal aspects.

In the remaining time, the issue pertaining to the lecture will be explored. Currently, doctors often overlook matters like patients’ consent, maintaining conferentiality, feel experts.

“This move is to ensure there is transparency in the system. There is often a tendency to prescribe expensive medicines. By touching upon the issue of ethics, there will be greater sensitisation among doctors,” said Dr K K Aggarwal, Honorary General Secretary Elect, IMA.

“If a patient has suffered heart attack, he should be counselled on how he can resume his routine activities or how long it will take him to recover. Counselling is still a neglected area,” said Aggarwal. The Medical Council of India is also planning activities on the same line. 

Doctors are now required to submit a form of completing 30 credit hours of studies in five years while renewing their license every five years. Though the MCI Act makes it mandatory for doctors to provide this certificate, state medical councils follow open-ended rules, said an MCI member.

The MCI is planning to reserve 10 per cent of the time that amounts to three hours in five years for studying mental health in-depth, said a senior member of the MCI.

“Mental health is being considered as an important component of medical practice. So doctors should revise the subject from time to time,” said the member.

However, the changes may be only symbolic with few doctors in the city currently providing the accreditation certificate to the state medical council. 

“It is not currently mandatory for doctors to provide this certificate. Around 10-15 per cent of doctors provide this certificate during license renewal every five years,” said Girish Tyagi, Registrar, Delhi Medical Council.

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