Although 45 doctors from various state-run hospitals were assaulted by the patient’s kin in the last three years across Maharashtra, the government has failed to implement measures to curb the violence.
In comparison, the neighbouring state of Karnataka has done a better job of protecting its doctors. By restricting the number of relatives visiting a ward and deploying adequate police personnel to handle untoward incidents, Karnataka Directorate of Medical Education (KDME) has managed to prevent its doctors from being subjected to violence at the hands of patient’s kin.
Dean of Bangalore Medical College, Dr S Sacchidanand, said that by restricting the access of patient’s relatives to the sensitive wards such as trauma and intensive care units, the college has managed to provide a safer environment for the doctors to work in.
“We allow only two relatives, along with doctors, inside a ward. Besides, we have at least 3 to 4 police officers stationed at every hospital. This acts as a deterrent for those wanting to take law into their own hands,” said Sacchidanand. He added that in case of an incident pertaining sporadic violence occurs on the hospital premises, the well-placed CCTV cameras help them identify the culprits.
Maharashtra, meanwhile, is still struggling to ensure safety of the doctors working at civil and state-run hospitals. In a recent incident, Dr Rohan Mhamunkar, a senior doctor at the Dhule civil Hospital, was assaulted by 15 to 20 relatives of a patient after he requested the family to shift the patient to another hospital owing to unavailability of a neurologist.
Mhamunkar, after being initially treated at the Seva hospital in Dhule, is currently recuperating at the Jupiter Hospital in Thane. Doctors here said he has lost 90% of his vision and has suffered an orbital fracture (severe trauma to eye socket) along with cranial fracture (skull), fractured ribs and injured his torso in the attack.
Dr Deoras Kiranshankar Wasudeo, who heads of the district body of Indian Medical Association (IMA) in Belgaum, Karnataka, said he has rarely noticed their doctors being subjected to such violence by the patient’s kin.
“Though cases of sporadic violence have been reported from across the state, the numbers are definitely less than the ones reported from Maharashtra. The attacks are a result of vulnerable psychological state of the relatives when they reach the hospital with a patient,” said Dr Wasudeo.
The Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), a state government body that acts as an advisory and regulator of medical education across Maharashtra, has plans to up the security at hospitals and restrict relatives’ access medical wards.