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Ethical and legal issues in cross-system practice in India: Past, present and future
The National medical journal of India
Short Title: Natl.Med.J.India
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: Nov 30, 2014
Pages: 295 - 299
Sources ID: 31476
Notes: LR: 20160614; CI: Copyright 2015; JID: 8809315; 2016/06/14 06:00 [entrez]; 2016/06/15 06:00 [pubmed]; 2016/08/03 06:00 [medline]; ppublish
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)
Recent changes in policies allowing practitioners of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) to integrate into the mainstream of healthcare and also allowing practitioners of Ayurveda and Homoeopathy to perform medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) under the proposed amendment to the MTP bill have brought crosssystem practice into the limelight. We evaluate cross-system practice from its legal and ethical perspectives. Across judgments, the judiciary has held that cross-system practice is a form of medical negligence; however, it is permitted only in those states where the concerned governments have authorized it by a general or special order. Further, though a state government may authorize an alternative medicine doctor to prescribe allopathic medicines (or vice versa), it does not condone the prescription of wrong medicines or wrong diagnosis. Courts have also stated that prescribing allopathic medicines and misrepresenting these as traditional medicines is an unfair trade practice and not explaining the side-effects of a prescribed allopathic medicine amounts to medical negligence. Finally, the Supreme Court has cautioned that employing traditional medical practitioners who do not possess the required skill and competence to give allopathic treatment in hospitals and to let an emergency patient be treated by them is gross negligence. In the event of an unwanted outcome, the responsibility is completely on the hospital authorities. Therefore, there is an urgent need to abolish cross-system practice, invest in healthcare, and bring radical changes in health legislations to make right to healthcare a reality.