Medical ethics in the spotlight at NHWIC-2024

Medical ethics in the spotlight at NHWIC-2024

Experts highlight the importance of informed consent, quality generic medicines, and innovation

The National Health Writers & Influencers Convention (NHWIC-2024), Asia’s largest congregation of health writers and influencers, hosted a “Navigating Medical Ethics in the Current and Future Landscape” session at the AIIMS, New Delhi. The session, organized by the HEAL Foundation, featured eminent experts from the fields of medicine, healthcare, and innovation, who shared their views and opinions on the ethical principles and challenges affecting clinical care practices in India.

The panellists at the NHWIC-2024 session highlighted the need for following the National Medical Commission (NMC) guidelines, which were issued in 2023 but have been kept in abeyance due to legal challenges, to ensure ethical and quality medical practice in India. The NMC guidelines aim to regulate the medical education and profession in India and mandate the use of generic medicines, which should be at par with the specific drugs in terms of quality and efficacy.

Ms Krishna Sarma, Founder and Managing Partner, Corporate Law Group, who moderated the session, said, “Medical ethics is a crucial and relevant topic in the current and future landscape of healthcare, as it affects the trust and relationship between the doctors and the patients, as well as the quality and safety of the medical services. The NMC guidelines are a welcome step to uphold the ethical standards and values of the medical profession, and to protect the rights and interests of the patients. The guidelines also address the legal aspects of medical practice, such as informed consent, confidentiality, and accountability. As a lawyer, I believe that the NMC guidelines will help to prevent and resolve the disputes and litigations that arise due to unethical or negligent medical practice, and to promote a culture of transparency and responsibility in the healthcare sector.”

Dr. Girish Tyagi, Registrar- Delhi Medical Council, President-Elect -Delhi Medical Association, urged the doctors to read and adhere to the NMC guidelines, which are meant to protect the doctors and the patients from malpractice and negligence. He said, “The NMC guidelines are a comprehensive and updated set of rules and regulations that cover various aspects of medical practice, such as teachers’ eligibility qualifications, registration of medical practitioners, licentiate examinations, and professional conduct. They also mandate the use of generic medicines, which can reduce the cost of treatment and increase the accessibility of drugs to the masses. The government should ensure that the generic medicines are not substandard or counterfeit, as they can compromise the treatment outcomes and increase the risk of drug resistance.”

Dr. Sunil Khetarpal, Director- Association of Healthcare Providers (India) – AHPI, emphasized the need for informed consent from the patients before any medical intervention. He said, “Informed consent is not only a legal requirement, but also a moral obligation. It ensures that the patients are aware of the benefits and risks of the procedure and that they have the right to refuse or withdraw consent at any time. According to a study, 50% of cases of surgeries happen due to lack of consent, which can lead to complications, litigation, and loss of trust.”

Dr Rajeev Gautam, Corporate Officer – HORIBA, Ltd., Japan, President – HORIBA India, spoke about the role of innovation and technology in improving the diagnosis and management of various diseases. He said, “Everything comes under regulation, but regulation should not stifle innovation. We need to leverage the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and molecular diagnostics, to enhance the accuracy, speed, and affordability of testing. We also need to collaborate with the public and private sectors, as well as the civil society, to ensure the accessibility and availability of these technologies to the masses.”

The NHWIC-2024 platform allows health writers and influencers to learn from experts and share their perspectives on various health issues. The session on navigating medical ethics was a stimulating and informative one, that highlighted the importance of ethical principles and guidelines in ensuring quality and trust in healthcare