Sunday, December 18

Accused doctor has freedom to move on?

If the accused doctor is declared innocent by the competent authority or court, then neither any medical association nor the government can stop him from moving on with his ‘professional’ work.
Considering the present fluid situation of the case and the twist and turns taken by all the players involved – the hide-and-seek of the alleged victim is going on and the accused is constantly changing his statements –it is being anticipated that the events can take any turn at any moment. On the other hand, Dr. Maqsood Hussain Leghari – who is said to be member of one of the influential families of the country – will be freed sooner or later. His indictment solely depends upon the statement and medical examination of the girl who has already gone back on her initial statement.
“Ultimately, the suspended Medical Superintendent of the Mayo Hospital Dr. Fayyaz Ahmed Ranjha will be in more trouble for concealing the incident from the higher officials for three days. He has been unable to give tangible reason in this regard,” said one of the senior officials of the health department on the condition of anonymity, adding that Dr. Ranjha was making all out efforts to impress upon the Punjab Chief Minister Ch Pervaiz Elahi for his re-instatement. “If it happens, then Dr. Maqsood will be made the scapegoat despite his influential family background,” he stated. Dr. Maqsood is still on remand.
The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) seems to be toothless in such situations despite being ‘The only regularity authority in Pakistan’ with 125549 members, which makes it virtually the largest doctors’ body of the country, if not of Asia.
In case if any physician close to Dr. Maqsood knew about his such activities, it is against the Code of Ethics of the PM &DC. Section 6 of the Code states: “A physician shall deal honestly with patients and colleagues, and strive to expose those physicians deficient in character or competence, or who engage in fraud or deception.”
Secretary PM&DC Sohail Karim Hashmi told that if either the police or the competent authority had exonerated the accused doctor, then the PM&DC would not be able to take any action. “The Council cannot take suo moto action, and investigates only those physicians against whom some person has complained in written to the Council. That is it!” he added. While answering a question about the post-punishment registration of the physician, Hashmi maintained that there was a possibility of re-registration according to the Ordinance of the PM&DC. On the other hand, according to the ‘Jurisdiction of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC)’, it has been empowered to “Take such disciplinary actions, which may be required for criminal convictions or serious professional misconduct of a doctor.”
While according to his statement, Dr. Maqsood has clearly violated almost all the clauses of the Code of Ethics, but the Council is not in position to take any action against him.
Dr. Maqsood also violated the Section 6 of the Code of Ethics. Under the head of ‘Duties of Physicians to each other’, it states that: “A physician shall not entice patients from his colleagues.” He also violated Section 11 (5), according to which “Forgery, theft, fraud, indecent behaviour or any other offence liable to be seen as moral turpitude is liable to disciplinary action.”
The accused disregarded Section 11 (1/10) Personal relationships of the Code, which states: “Any form of sexual advance to a patient with whom there exists a professional relationship is professional misconduct. A RMDP’s professional position must never be used to pursue a relationship of an emotional or sexual nature with a patient, the patient’s spouse, or a near relative of a patient.”
“As stated by Dr. Maqsood himself that he had been taking the victim out of the Mayo Hospital, he has clearly violated the Code of Ethics, and is a violator,” a hospital official said.
According to the Medical and Dental Council Ordinance (1962), Section 31 (1) ‘Removal of names from the Register’, which states: “The Council in its discretion may refuse to permit the registration of any person or direct the removal altogether or for a specified period from the Register of the name of any registered medical practitioner or registered dentist who has been convicted of any such offence as implies in the opinion of the Council a defect of character or who, after an enquiry at which opportunity has been given to such person to be heard in person or through advocate or pleader, has been held by the Council as guilty of infamous conduct in any professional respect or who has shown himself to be unfit to continue in practice on account of mental ill-health or other grounds.” Despite all this, the accused seemed to be out of the reach of the PM&DC, which has been reluctant to use ‘discretionary’ powers. “The Council has so far removed a few doctors, like Prof Majid Hussain, from the register, but it has only been done after receiving a written complaint from a person, whether a commoner or any public official,” said Sohail Karim Hashmi.

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