Maharashtra Medical Council, the apex body of medical professionals in the state, has launched a crackdown against doctors who pursue post-graduate degrees through distance education and claim to be MD physicians.
"The degrees such doctors pursue are not recognised by the Medical Council of India and Maharashtra Medical Council," MMC president Dr Kishor Taori said.
"As per our data, there are around 600 such doctors. We have sent notices to some of them asking them to stop displaying boards and using stationery to denote they are MD," Taori said.
"With such false claims, there is no level playing field as far as those with such degrees and those who have obtained recognised MD degrees are concerned. Such doctors may work as bogus cardiologists, gynaecologists or run fake ICUs. Ultimately, it is the patient who suffers," Taori said.
The Council, which heard the complaint of a doctor at Mehkar in Buldhana district of Vidarbha against two such doctors with fake MD degree, warned the latter to burn their letterheads and other stationery materials that mentions them as MD doctors "immediately, failing which stringent action would be taken against them".
The two doctors -- Dr Rajendra Rajguru and Dr Panjab Shejol, both practising at Mehkar -- were warned against claiming to be MD physicians.
"What if an injured child is rushed to a doctor who claims to be a paediatrician but has only undergone a distance post-graduate degree from some foreign institution?" he said.
Taori said the Council has received several complaints about how doctors who have completed a five-and-a-half-year degree courses in universities abroad prefer to label themselves as MD physicians when they return home.
"They are actually equivalent to an MBBS and as such they cannot display boards stating they are MD physicians," another Council member said.
The Council has found that around 600 doctors across Maharashtra have earned the medical degree from universities in Russia, Ukraine, China, etc.
Medical students in India need to complete a four-and -a-half-year MBBS course, followed by one-year internship and another three years for post-graduation, which is around eight-and-a-half years. Hence, a four to five year course in medicine at universities abroad should be equivalent only to an MBBS degree, he said.
The latest crackdown is part of MMC's efforts to weed out unethical practices among medical practitioners in the state.