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Surrogate advertising by doctors comes under the scanner

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Medical Council has issued a stern warning to medical establishments in the Capital that advertise their doctors and “first-of-its-kind” procedures done by them.

In a bid to ensure safety of patients and put a halt to the aggressive advertising exercise being carried out by some hospitals and nursing homes in the city, DMA will soon put in place a review team that will look into the matter and issue warning to the establishments indulging in “marketing their hospitals and doctors”.

The Medical Council of India strictly prohibits individual doctors or their services being advertised. “So what we are seeing is called surrogate advertising which is not allowed either. Despite clear rules that advertising individual doctors is not allowed, medical establishments in the city seem to be doing this on the sly and we are not happy with this violation,'' said Delhi Medical Council secretary Dr. Girish Tyagi.

“The DMC will review all such advertising and see if any violation is happening and then take action accordingly. Also doctors who do ‘extraordinary' and ‘first-of-its-kind' work should go to their respective associations, report their work, get it reviewed by the peer group and only then should it be allowed into the public domain,'' he added.

Medical establishments claim that there is nothing “wrong” in advertising as it is aimed at providing information to the general public. “What else will a medical establishment advertise besides its services and doctors. With so many private hospitals and nursing homes opening up in the city it is important that we advertise to make known our presence, tell the people about the services we offer and the fact that patients will be in good hands,” said a representative of a well-known private hospital in the city.

Dr. Ganesh K. Mani, a senior consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said: “The existing code of ethics has to be followed and while most doctors provide information to benefit the general public there is no set format to giving out information about medical advancements. However, when claiming to be doing something for the first time, doctors are expected to check with the available literature and peer group to ensure that correct information is given to the general public.”

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