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HomeEducation AbroadUnderstanding distinction between “Displaying”  &  “Advertising” for Doctors

Understanding distinction between “Displaying”  &  “Advertising” for Doctors

A massive debate has begun in the medical fraternity after the NMC has released its e-book on professional conduct of medical practitioners.  The NMC has said that a physician should not use an unusually large signboard and refrain from writing anything other than name, qualifications ratified by the NMC, their specialization and registration number. The NMC has further said that a medical practitioner may acquire skills and training in various areas related to a particular discipline but the use of title ‘consultant/specialization’ should be restricted to those who are qualified in that particular discipline. To clarify, NMC gave an example of an MBBS who had completed a six months certificate training in ultrasound under the PCPNDT act but was practicing as a consultant sonologist. The said MBBS doctor had used the title “Consulting Sonologist” though his certification scope was meant for the purpose of PCPNDT Act only.

The latest e book of NMC has led to many questions as to how should a doctor display his professional skills so that people become aware of his medical skills. The question being asked is as to what should be the size of signboards and what should be the content of the signboards. Also the content of other mode of displaying the professional skills such as Visiting Cards, Social-media & Letter heads is also not clear. In Consumer Court one of the primary reasons for doctors being held negligent is the inappropriate display of content which misleads the patients. The physicians should in no way promote themselves by giving false promises of guaranteeing treatment with their treatment. As per the NMC guidelines promotion or advertisement of the treatment offered by the Physician is strictly restricted. In social media posts also the Physician can provide content which is only informative in nature and does not promote the treatment offered by the Physician.

Content Permitted for Signboards / Visiting Cards / Announcements

  • Name, Qualifications, Specialization, Registration number, Consultancy time, Days you are available for Consultancy
  • List of various treatments the physician can offer
  • Fees for the treatments of the treatment offered by the physician
  • Discount in treatment
  • Free treatment for BPL patients or any other category of patients

Content Restricted for Signboards / Visiting Cards / Announcements

  • Specialization not within the scope of your qualification (For e.g. As in previous example though the MBBS doctor was qualified for ultrasound under the PCPNDT act but was practicing as a consultant sonologist)
  • Treatment which is not in the scope of qualification of the Physician
  • Guaranteeing  results of treatment offered by the Physician  (For e.g. Orthopedic surgeon guaranteeing the mobility of patient after knee replacement )
  • Displaying the success ratio of the treatment offered by the Physician(For e.g. An IVF clinic stating that their success ratio of conceiving a child is 71% ….)
  • Testimonials of patient in any form of the treatment offered by the Physician.  (For e.g. Orthopedic surgeon displaying the photo of a player “X” in Indian cricket team with himself and stating “ X” knee surgery was done by him OR The player “X” stating that he was having serious knee issue which was resolved by the orthopedic surgeon OR  Displaying a letter from the player “X” stating that his knee issue was resolved by the orthopedic surgeon)

Khalil Girkar

Advocate, Mumbai High Court