Duties of a Medical Professional or Doctor

Last updated on Jun 21, 2022

A doctor should uphold the dignity and honor of their profession,1 and their prime objective should be to render service to humanity.2 Further, doctors should be upright, modest, sober, patient, prompt and conduct themselves with propriety in their profession.3 Legal regulations provide a comprehensive list of a doctor’s general duties, which are:

Maintaining a good practice

Doctors should:4

  • Take care of each patient and provide proper service and devotion.
  • Try continuously to improve medical knowledge and skills. They should also use this knowledge to benefit both patients and other colleagues.
  • Practice methods of healing founded on a scientific basis. A doctor should not associate professionally with anyone who violates this principle.5

Maintaining medical records of patients

  • Maintaining medical records:6
    • Doctors should maintain medical records of patients for a period of 3 years from the commencement of treatment.7
    • Upon a request by the patient, or authorised attendant, or legal authorities, such medical records shall be produced within 72 hours.8
    • A medical practitioner has to  maintain a register of all the medical certificates issued by them. The identification marks of the patient, along with the signature or thumb impression of the patient shall be collected. The practitioner has to keep a copy of the same.9
    • Efforts have to be made to digitalize the records.10

General Duties of a Doctor

A doctor has some general duties apart from the ones give above including:

  • Displaying registration numbers.11 Upon registration, the State Medical Council gives the doctor a registration number. This should be displayed in all the prescriptions, certificates, money receipts given to the patients.12
  • Use of generic names of drugs.13 The Generic Name of a drug refers to its chemical name, or the chemical makeup of the drug, rather than the assigned brand name.
  • Highest quality assurance in patient care.14 Further doctors should:
    • Aid in safeguarding the profession against the admission of people who don’t have the appropriate education or don’t have the proper moral character.
    • Not employ anyone for a professional practice who is neither registered or enlisted under any of the medical laws. For example, if a doctor is hiring a nurse, it should be someone who is a registered nurse, qualified to practice medicine.
  • Exposing unethical conduct of other members of the profession.15
  • Doctors should announce their fees before rendering service. For instance, personal financial interests of a doctor should not conflict with the patient’s medical interests.16
  • Observing the laws of the country and not helping others in evading the same.17

Duties towards patients

Although doctors are not bound to treat every patient that comes up to them, they should always be ready to respond to calls from the sick and injured. A doctor can advise the patient to go to another doctor, but must treat patients in times of emergencies. No doctor should arbitrarily refuse to treat their patient.18

A doctor should be patient, delicate, and must honor the privacy of the patient.19 While explaining the condition of a patient, the doctor should neither exaggerate nor minimize the gravity of the patient’s condition.20

The patient must not be neglected. Once the doctor has undertaken a case, they should not neglect the patient or withdraw from the case without giving adequate notice to the patient and the patient’s family. Further, doctors should not deliberately commit acts of negligence that may deprive a patient from necessary medical care.21

If your doctor fails in any or all of these duties, you can complain against them in the appropriate forum.

  1. Regulation 1.1.1, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  2. Regulation 1.1.2, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  3. Regulation 1.1.2, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  4. Regulation 1.2, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  5. Regulation 1.2.1, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  6. Regulation 1.3, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  7. Regulation 1.3.1, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  8. Regulation 1.3.2, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  9. Regulation 1.3.3, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  10. Regulation 1.3.4, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  11. Regulation 1.4, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  12. Regulation 1.4.1, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  13. Regulation 1.5, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  14. Regulation 1.6, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  15. Regulation 1.7, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  16. Regulation 1.8, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  17. Regulation 1.9, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  18. Regulation 2.1.1, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  19. Regulation 2.2, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  20. Regulation 2.3, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]
  21. Regulation 2.4, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) Regulations, 2002[]

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