Mumbai: Many city doctors are currently upset about the latest civic order barring them from prescribing swab collection unless they have carried out a physical examination of the patient.
The Association of Medical Consultants (AMC) believes this order is in contravention of the tele-medicine policy, which allowed doctors to prescribe swab tests to callers showing symptoms of fever and cough, even without a physical examination.
The new municipal commissioner, Iqbal Chahal, has revived the controversial order of physical exams first brought in by his predecessor Praveen Pardeshi, but later struck down.
“We will act against private medical practitioners who are giving out letters recommending swab tests for Covid-19 without physically examining patients. While the doctors will be sent show cause notices for cancellation of their registration, the civic body could also get FIRs registered against them,” said an official.
As per the recent draft prepared by the Medical Council of India and Niti Aayog during this pandemic, under the 'tele-medicine' policy, doctors can consult or diagnose patients through phone or video calls.
“Even the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has told doctors to ask patients if they have cough and fever, which does not involve physically testing the patient,” said Dr Deepak Baid, president, AMC
“We have also written a letter to the BMC chief asking him to withdraw the said order. Moreover, by not conducting physical exams, they are not violating any norms set by the MCI and the ICMR,” he added.
The AMC letter to the BMC commissioner says, “This dictate of the municipal commissioner, about the cancellation of the licence of a doctor if Covid-19 testing is done without physical examination is not in keeping with the Amended MCI Ethics Act, 2020.
Neither is it in keeping with the basis of the ICMR guidelines for testing where the criterion is 'ILI: Influenza-like illness' which is based on symptoms and physical findings do not play a major role.".
Dr Baid said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Council has no right to revoke or cancel their licences as their parental body is the MCI, which alone can take action against them. This action of the BMC clearly shows they don’t want more people to get tested or spread the infection.
“The aim of the MCI was to control spreading of infection by introducing telemedicine, but the BMC is interfering with this. If patients step out for testing, there is a possibility they will come in contact with more people and will get infected. Taking action against doctors will not help them reduce cases,” he said.