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HEALTH CARE LAWS – SYNOPSIS

IMPLICTIONS OF CROSS – SYSTEM MEDICAL PRACTICE IN INDIA

- N.Bavithran (BC0140018)

Introduction: Recently there are policy changes brought wherein, the medical practitioners
prescribe for Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha etc., to integrate into the
healthcare regime and also allowing practitioners of Ayurveda and Homoeopathy to practice
cross system practice. In many 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. The paper is an attempt
to analyse the scope of cross system practice in India and what are the circumstances under
which it can be allowed.

Research objective: The objective of the paper is to study and analyse the ambit of cross-
system practice from its legal and ethical perspectives. The paper shall analyse the pros and
cons of allowing cross system practice and whether it needs to be abolished. There are many
scientific advances in the field of allopathic system and at the same time they are complicated
as they are risky and also associated with many life-threatening side-effects. Meanwhile, the
government of India has been deciding to expand the reach of health services by allowing
cross-system practice, but there are issue relating to the same.

Research questions: The paper shall also analyse the basic research question as to

1. Whether practitioners of modern medicine i.e. allopathic practitioners prescribe


ayurvedic medicines ?

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2. In light of the recent Supreme Court cases the paper shall also analyse whether there
is any bar on cross system practice?
3. Whether there is a need for a sui generis act regulating cross system practice in India?
4. Whether cross system practice is legally and ethically justified?

Tentative Chapterisation

1. Introduction
2. Cross – System Practice in India
2.1 legal and ethical issues
3. Present Law regarding cross – system practice in India
4. Landmark Decision of the Supreme Court
5. Conclusion

Literature Review

1. Case Review: The Supreme Court, in the Poonam Varma v. Ashwin Patel & Ors on 10
May 1996. SCC (4) 332. case has ruled that if you are practicing any other system it is
Negligence per se. While in case of Dr Mukhtiar Chand & Ors. v. The State of Punjab &
Ors (Decision dated 8 October,1998) 7 SCC 579 - stated that medical practitioners of
Indian systems are allowed to prescribe modern medicines
2. Case Review: The Supreme Court in Manpreet Kaur Vs. Dr. Veena Ghumber 2005 CPJ
63 have pronounced that a practitioner of Indian system of medicine can prescribe drugs
of modern medicine. But the overall situation has not changed much since then, cross-
pathy is legally not allowed. The paper shall analyse the case in detail for the project.
3. Math SB, Sydney M, Kumar NC. Public health perspectives in cross system practice:
Past, present and future. Indian J Med Ethics 2015;12:131–6.

The paper describes cross system medical practice as when a doctor of one system of
medicine practices in another medical system, in which she/he has not been formally trained
or studied. The article suggests for 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.

4. Verma U, Sharma R, Gupta P, Gupta S, Kapoor B. Allopathic VS Ayurvedic practices in


tertiary care institutes of Urban North India. Indian J Pharmcol 2007;39:52-54.

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The paper discusses about the study and popularity of cross-pathy practices among both
qualified allopathic and ayurvedic practitioners referring to Clause1.1.3 of Medical Council
of India (MCI) prohibit the allopathic practitioners to prescribe drugs from Ayurvedic System
of Medicine and ayurvedic practitioners from Allopathic System of Medicine. Hence, there is
urgent need to undertake educational and reorientation programmes of registered medical
practitioners regarding various MCI rules and regulations. The author suggests that high
quality, clinical trials are required to establish the safety and efficacy of ayurvedic drugs. The
benefit of the patient lies in the optimal balance and evidence-based use of the two systems
and this needs to be encouraged especially in developing countries like India with inadequate
doctor patient ratio.

5. On 21st November 2010 issue of cross system medical practice was discussed at
Jamshedpur, Jharkhand during the First National Conference of Medico legal Group of
the Indian Academy of Paediatrics. The issues discussed were relating to who is a
genuine medical practitioner and are licensed herbal products allowed to be prescribed by
allopathic doctors and the legality of cross practice in hospitals. The discussion is
important in the view that it brought the issue of cross system practice and its
disadvantages.