Bindu Shajan Perappadan

Stern warning to those using the ‘Doctor’ prefix; rule being flouted by 90 p.c. of physiotherapists working in Delhi

‘Private hospitals are listing physiotherapists as doctors misleading the general population’

It allows them to charge more; creates unhealthy trend of paramedics calling themselves doctors

NEW DELHI: Physiotherapists are not doctors and therefore should not be allowed to prefix “Doctor” in front of their name. This is the stern warning issued by the Medical Council of India, the statutory body regulating medical colleges, affiliations, new colleges and doctors registration, after it received representations from several quarters complaining that the rule was being flouted by almost 90 per cent of the physiotherapists working in the Capital.

Worse still, private hospitals are now listing physiotherapists as doctors, clearly misleading the general population.

Delhi Medical Council member Anil Bansal said: “Private hospitals in the city are listing physiotherapists as doctors confusing the patients. This also allows physiotherapists to charge more, offer advice that they are not permitted or trained to provide and creates an unhealthy trend of paramedics who call themselves doctors.”

The MCI had earlier made it clear that “no other group of workers in the field of medical profession whether nursing or para-medical staff should use the title ‘Doctor’. A person holding any qualification in physiotherapy is not entitled to use the title doctor as prefix. Whenever any person is found to be using the title ‘Doctor’ as a prefix when such a person is holding a qualification in physiotherapy but not possessing any recognised medical qualification, he would be violating the provision of Act 1916.”

MCI secretary A.R.N. Setalvad said: “Physiotherapists cannot use the prefix ‘Doctor’ as was decided at a meeting of the Ethics Committee of the Council.”

Delhi Council for Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy chairman A. K. Agarwal said: “As per the Council’s Act there is no provision as of now allowing physiotherapists to use the title ‘Doctor’ but a discussion on the matter is currently on.”

Not used on any official document

Stating that physiotherapists were not using the title ‘Doctor’ on any official document, including their hospital identity card, Sujata Malik, Head of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physiotherapy at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “While ‘Doctor’ is not used by us on official documents, we use the same to make it convenient for patients to identify us.”

Stating that physiotherapists’ use of the title ‘Doctor’ was clearly a “legal malpractice and is aimed at creating confusion among the general public”, Mallikarjuna Nallegowda,

Consultant (Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation), World Health Organisation (WHO)-India, said: “Physiotherapists are also one of the para-medical personnel who work with medical specialties including orthopaedics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology and paediatrics.

The World Health Organisation in its 2000 report on ‘Allied Health (paramedical) Services and Education Report’ and in 2003 on ‘Health Care Systems in Transition’ listed physiotherapists with other para-medical personnel.”

The Delhi Voluntary Hospital Forum chairman, Chander Prakash, said: “There are only a handful of private health care institutions in Delhi that do not allow physiotherapists to use the prefix ‘Doctor’; in most other places they are listed as doctors which is continuing because nobody questions it.”