Should surgeries be broadcast live? NMC sets up committee to provide recommendation

This latest order comes in response to the petition filed before the Supreme Court seeking a direction for laying down guidelines to regulate live broadcast of surgeries done without informed consent from the patients

Updated - January 30, 2024 01:24 pm IST

Published - January 29, 2024 07:45 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Photo used for representation purpose only.

Photo used for representation purpose only.

Following the ongoing public debate on whether medical surgeries should be broadcast live, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has now set-up a committee of experts to provide recommendations on the issue. The apex medical regulator is also seeking comments from stakeholders and the public on the matter of live broadcast of surgical procedures on patients by private hospitals. Suggestions are to be posted by early this February. 

This latest order, issued on January 23, comes in response to the petition filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking a direction for laying down guidelines to regulate live broadcast of surgeries done without the informed consent of the patients. 

The NMC in its latest public notice referred to a writ petition before the Supreme Court in which the petitioner held that many private hospitals are commercially exploiting the patients and using them as models to fulfil their ulterior motives through live surgery broadcasts in conferences. 

“Various companies are promoting themselves and making a fortune out of the miseries of the exploited patients. Advertising sponsorship and professional showmanship overshadow the true purpose of these broadcasts. Healthcare facilities showcase their capabilities, surgeons flaunt their skills and companies promote their products all at the expense of patient safety. Pre-recorded surgical videos, edited to meet educational needs can achieve the same objectives with far less risk,” the petition claimed. 

The Commission added that in pursuance of the Petitioner’s prayer it has been decided to constitute a Committee of experts to give recommendations on the issue of live surgeries broadcast by private hospitals in the country, with the approval of the NMC chairman. 

“In this regard all stakeholders and members of the public are invited to provide comments on the said issue of live surgery broadcast within the next 10 days, facilitating the committee in their pursuit of a balanced and informed decision-making process,” the notice further read. 

Meanwhile, a recent study titled - ‘Safety and effectiveness of live broadcast of surgical procedures: systematic review’ noted that Live Broadcast of Surgical Procedures (LBSP) has gained popularity in conferences and educational meetings in the past few decades. The study found that LBSP can be of educational value but patient safety may be compromised. 

“A standardised framework of reporting on LBSP and its outcomes is required from an ethical and patient safety perspective,” the study concluded. 

The medical community itself is divided on the issue with a section of the doctors stating that there can be no compromise over patient safety and that medical education can be obtained even with recorded surgeries, while others consider this an important tool to train young doctors.

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