HC: Docs need not provide contact details to patients


Rajiv G    05 July 2018

Thiruvananthapuram: A single bench of the high court on Wednesday stayed the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission order that doctors should provide their mobile numbers and contact details to the patients. The HC move came following a petition filed by the state branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The commission had directed hospitals in the state to keep a register containing details of doctors working with them, like postal and email addresses and contact number, and share the same with their patients upon request.

IMA opposed the directive and moved the high court stating that the commission’s directive was an infringement on the privacy of the doctors.

The high court, in its order, said the doctors can share the contact details on their own and it cannot be made mandatory through an order or by law.

“The doctors are already stressed with work load and if the patients start calling them their work will become 24X7, which is humanly impossible. The specialist doctors work for 10 to 12 hours in a day. It will be difficult for them if the patients start contacting them,” said IMA state secretary Dr N Sulphi.

The IMA told the high court that only the duty doctors and hospital authorities should be allowed to contact the doctor in case of an emergency. “Hospitals are in possession of the contact details of all doctors working. Once doctors are out of the hospital after the duty hours, the duty doctors or other emergency staff can contact them at any time,” said Dr Sulphi.

The consumer disputes redressal commission had issued the order after observing the practice of private hospitals feigning ignorance about the whereabouts of doctors when complaints are registered against them by patients for alleged medical negligence. Several cases were pending before the forum since the hospitals claim to be ignorant about the whereabouts of the doctors whose service they had utilized in the past.

The commission had then ruled that failure to maintain a register or refusal to give the information to patients on request will be treated as a deficiency of service on the part of the hospital under the Consumer Protection Act.

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