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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 1810-1811  

Lessons on ethical healthcare communication from #MeToo movement

1 Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College, Haldwani, Uttarakhand, India
2 Department of Pathology, Government Medical College, Haldwani, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Web Publication31-May-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ganesh Singh Dharmshaktu
Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College, Haldwani - 263 139, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_258_19

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How to cite this article:
Dharmshaktu GS, Pangtey T. Lessons on ethical healthcare communication from #MeToo movement. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:1810-1

How to cite this URL:
Dharmshaktu GS, Pangtey T. Lessons on ethical healthcare communication from #MeToo movement. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jul 14];8:1810-1. Available from: http://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2019/8/5/1810/259427

Dear Editor,

We read with great interest the editorial on a contemporary issue “Physicians and healthcare professionals in the era of #MeToo” by Khubchandani et al.[1] The article is a crisp and succinct overview of recently highlighted but a perennial problem in many vocations. Healthcare system involves interpersonal interaction between adults with normal or sometimes altered mental status. The interaction, forming basis of the doctor–patient relationship, exists across ethnic, sexual, and societal variables. The interaction may witness exchange of information that at times is personal and intimate. These dialogues may expose the vulnerability of either person if there exists an emotional involvement beyond the norm and code of standard protocol. The chances of one person taking advantage of the situation when emotions run high are pertinent. Healthcare system, by default, involves intricate and intimate human interaction in history taking, clinical examination, and treatment that sometimes require patients to shed inhibition and clothes. Palpation of certain organs and violating the personal space is an occupational demand. Societal and religious sentiments may also play a role in deciding a benign touch from inappropriate gesture. Hippocrates oath and various other codes of conduct condemn any extraprofessional relationship and forbid undue advances and misuse of trust.

#MeToo movement was critical in giving voice to victims of sexual misconduct perpetrated by some authoritarian person initially in the entertainment industry but soon reverberated into other industries as exchange of sexual innuendo is not exclusive of film industry and can occur in any power-based organization. It has indeed succeeded in providing a strong voice to the issue that is usually pushed under carpet and has emboldened people to speak up for a better work culture. This movement, on the flip side, may destroy careers by the immediate furore and media trial it generates. If based on ulterior motives, it may shake the practice of a physician, which is difficult to regain even after declared not guilty later. This movement thus should make everyone sensitive to gender-neutral interpersonal communication with efforts made to learn and nurture the craft of effective and professional behavior. This shall strengthen the belief that a better, pragmatic, and relevant doctor–patient relationship is not an enigmatic or elusive idea.

It should, however, not strangulate the healthy rapport between a doctor and a patient which itself has healing potential. Emotional downpour, beyond uninterrupted listening, sometimes is cathartic and cleansing to the patient. If we as a society wish to reap the benefits of holistic health, then good camaraderie is not only worth an investment but need of the hour. Recently, MCI (Medical Council of India) is expected to introduce competency-based medical education (CBME) curricula along with emphasis on better communication skill training and evaluation.[2] AETCOM (Attitude, Ethics and Communication) modules as part of MCI teachers' workshops is developed and planned to roll out from August 2019.[3] Experts believe that it is a daunting task full of challenges but a welcome step.[4] Gender-based communication skills need to be included within these modules for undergraduate students. Though doctors are hard pressed with workload and have less disposable time for each patient, attempts to learn and inculcate bonding and sympathy inside budding medical students throughout the MBBS schedule shall certainly develop curiosity and enthusiasm for this underappreciated foray of practical communication skill. This is more important now than in the past as aloof and self-centered life, coupled with impatience to learn and hone the communication or soft skills that only get better with time and practice seems prevalent in most young students.

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  References Top

Khubchandani J, Kumar R, Bowman SL. Physicians and healthcare professionals in the era of #MeToo. J Family Med Prim Care2019;8:771-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Competency based undergraduate curriculum for the Indian Medical Graduate. 2018. Available from: www.mciindia.org/cms/information-desk/for-colleges/ug-curriculum. [Last accessed on 2019 Mar 28].  Back to cited text no. 2
Medical Council of India. AETCOM.2018. Available from: www.mciindia.org/cms/information-desk/for-colleges/ug-curriculum. [Last accessed on 2019 Mar 28].  Back to cited text no. 3
Mitra J, Saha I. Attitude and communication module in medical curriculum: Rationality and challenges. Indian J Public Health2016;60:95-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
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