410 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
sidered a dereliction of moral and professional duty. A medical practitioner
serving on the staff of a charitable hospital is bound to render professional
service to every patient attending the institution.
When a medical practitioner comes to know that his patient wishes to
make an expensive gift to him or to bequeath a portion of his property to
him in his will in recognition of his professional services, he should take
care to bring this fact at once to the notice of his patient's natural heirs and
legal advisers, so that he may not be accused of having used "undue
influence " on his patient for his benefit.
3. To use clean and proper instruments and appliances.
4. To furnish his patients with proper and suitable medicines, if he is
in the habit of dispensing his own medicines. If he has no dispensary of his
own he should legibly write prescriptions, using such abbreviations as are
usually employed and mentioning full and detailed instructions in language
which the chemist or pharmacist dispensing prescriptions can readily under-
stand. He is held responsible for any damage in health, temporary or
permanent, caused to the patient as a result of his wrong or ununderstand-
able instructions mentioned in the prescription.
5. To give in simple language full directions to his patients or their
attendants concerning the administration of remedial measures including the
articles of diet. Exact quantities and precise times for the administration of
medicines should be specifically mentioned.
6. To keep inviolate the secrets of his patients communicated to him
by them or discovered by him at the time of medical examination. The
Hippocratic Oath enjoins on every medical practitioner not to divulge "the
things he sees or hears in the exercise or his art, or outside its exercise, in
his intercourse with men and to keep silent regarding them as inviolable
secrets". According to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine a votary of
medicine " should never gossip of the practices of a patient's house. Even
if possessed of sufficient knowledge he should not boast of that knowledge ".
Professional secrecy is an implied term of contract between the medical
practitioner and his patient, and its disclosure would be a breach of trust and
confidence and would render the medical attendant liable to damages. In
France and Germany disclosure of medical secrets is regarded as a criminal
offence. It must, however, be remembered that a medical witness is bound
to reveal them in a judicial proceeding, if ordered by the court.
A medical practitioner should not answer inquiries addressed to him hy
an insurance company respecting a person who may have consulted him
without having obtained the patient's consent which, if possible, should be
in writing. But, if he is a medical examiner, he must furnish all the infor-
mation acquired by him without reservation, even though it may be detri-
mental to the interests of his client.
A medical practitioner should not inform the relatives or even parents
of the result of examination of his patient who has attained the age of
majority unless he gives his written consent.
Privileged Communications.—A medical practitioner cannot withhold
professional secrets in those cases where he has a statutory duty to notify
births, deaths, infectious diseases, etc. to the public authorities. On certain
occasions he has a moral duty to protect the interests of the community or
the public and in doing so, if he divulges the secrets of his patient obtained
in the course of his professional examination and treatment, he will be
absolved from legal labilities. For instance, a medical practitioner has a
privilege to inform the warder of a hostel, if any boarder is suffering from
a vengreaLdisease. He has also a privilege ta inform the railway authorities,