Henceforth, doctors will have to be careful while accepting 'gifts' from the medical industry.
That is because the Indian Medical Association has formulated a set of guidelines for medicos about the sort of gifts that can be accepted by them.
"Some gifts that reflect the customary practices of industry may not be consistent with the principles of medical ethics. We have taken a strong stand on the issue and have formulated a set of guidelines," IMA National President Sudipto Roy told PTI on the sidelines of the 69th annual conference of the association, which ended in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.
According to the guidelines, any gifts accepted by physicians should primarily entail a benefit to patients and should not be of substantial value.
"Textbooks, modest meals and other gifts are appropriate if they serve a genuine educational function. Cash payments are absolutely unacceptable," Roy said.
He said individual gifts of minimal value, like pens and notepads, have also been permitted under the guidelines as long as they are related to the physician's work.
Subsidies to underwrite the costs of continuing medical education conferences or professional meetings are considered contributory to improvement of patient care and therefore permissible, he said.
However, payments to defray the costs of a conference should not be accepted directly from the company by the physicians attending the meet, IMA Secretary General Vinay Aggarwal said.
As doctors are showered with gifts from the pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies, which also sponsor socially beneficial functions like educational seminars and conferences, there are growing ethical concerns among medicos on what to take and what not.
Aggarwal said subsidies from industry for costs of travel, lodging or other personal expenses of physicians attending conferences or meetings had also been put under the 'unacceptable' tag.
Scholarship or other special funds to permit medical students, residents and fellows to attend carefully selected educational conferences were permissible as long as the academic or training institute selected the beneficiaries.
"No gifts should be accepted if there are strings attached," Roy added.