There has been a long-standing debate between physicians and physiotherapists about whether the latter are qualified doctors and can use the “Dr.” Title. This past September, India took a strong stand on the issue.
India’s Health Department has issued a government order stating that physiotherapists are not eligible to call themselves doctors, use “Dr.” before their names, or prescribe drugs.
Although several medical associations, including the Indian Medical Association and the Tamil Nadu State Medical Council, applauded the decision, the Indian Association of Physiotherapists was not pleased with the order and is even threatening a legal challenge.
“Doctors across India do not have a problem; only TN doctors seem to find this uncomfortable. Also, they can say we are not allowed to prescribe scheduled drugs. Most physiotherapists suggest over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Instead of saying ‘drugs’, the order should have specified ‘scheduled’ drugs,” said Senior Physiotherapist B S Desikamani.
Despite the pressure, the State Health Department has said that they are happy with the decision and there are no plans to review the order.