Your space: Safe work environment at hospitals must, say Puneites
The attack on a resident doctor in Kolkata in June has prompted the city doctors to take preventive measures. Doctors have stepped up their demand for security and violence-free zones. Our readers tell us what steps should be taken to see that healthcare improves and violence against doctors is strongly dealt with...Updated: Jul 14, 2019 16:19 IST
Recently, we saw on electronic media a Muslim mob attack doctors mercilessly in West Bengal because an 85-year-old man died of natural causes at the hospital. Doctors throughout the country went on strike and demanded that they should be treated with respect and dignity. They demanded that they should have security cover. While the reasons for attacks on doctors include delay in treatment, medical negligence and allegations of profiteering, the perpetrators are not the patients themselves, but their relatives or a dysfunctional mob.
As per the World Health Organisation, the recommended doctor-patient ratio is 1:1,000. In contrast, India has a ratio of 1:1,457. States who do not have a law ensuring doctors protection must enforce the law at the earliest. Irony is that, such incidents do occur in states that have the law in place. Take for instance, Bengal itself. The incident occurred in its capital (Kolkata) though the state has law for doctors’ protection. Anyone who violates the law here can be sentenced to a three-year prison term with up to ₹50,000 fine. Another example of Tamil Nadu can be cited. The state has similar law whose violation can lead up to 10-year prison term.
The way forward is improving the health infrastructure, making billing system more transparent, counselling patients about adverse treatment effects, setting up redressal system in hospitals and providing basic security in medical institutions. We must fix the hospital culture for the sake of doctors’ safety. It is equally important for patients to understand that doctors are caregivers, lifesavers and sometimes, they are miracle workers. They are not gods and certainly not slaves. They are professionals who are trained to do a job. While a doctor’s negligence can lead to someone’s life being snuffed away, blaming a doctor for trying to save an ailing old man’s life but failing, leads one nowhere.
Patient-doctor trust must is necessary
People must trust doctors who are treating patients. If there is trust, then we do not need to take the patients’ consent before the treatment. The reasons for attacks on doctors include medical negligence and allegations of profiteering. One side of treatment that everyone must know is the rising medical expenditure as the government is insensitive towards strengthening the health sector of government hospitals. It is expected that the government should spend six per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) on health, but only one per cent is allocated leading to increase in the cost of medical treatment for the common man. There needs to be more vigilance and security outside wards that frequently see deaths. The government must also ensure that only those who have a visiting pass be given entry to medical facility centres.
Dr Siddhartha Dhende
Doctors need more safety at work
The recent attack on resident doctors following the death of a patient at the Nilratan Sarkar Medical College (NRS) in Kolkata highlights the glaring, yet often overlooked, issue of violence against doctors meted out by relatives, caregivers and patients. Security measures such as guards, CCTV cameras, violence-free zones and emergency alarms are very important to be put in place. It is the responsibility of the hospital administration to implement strategies to prevent overcrowding, such as a gate pass system and restricted patient entry. Attacking doctors should be made a non-bailable offence with strict punishment. I think most of the violence will reduce if doctors show empathy with the patient and treat the person to the best of his/her ability. Service to man is service to god and the doctors must work towards gaining the patience’s confidence and trust.
Dr Yunus Inamdar
An effective law to protect doctors is needed
The laws currently in place to protect doctors from attacks by patients and their relatives are not working due to lack of strong and effective implementation by the police. There is a law namely Protection Of Medicare Service Persons And Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention Of Violence And Damage To Property Act) also known as the Medical Protection Act (MPA), 2013. The said Act offers protection to doctors attached to prominent hospitals as well as independent practitioners. The attackers who charge at the doctors and cause damage to their property can be imprisoned for three years and a fine of ₹50,000. This Act appears strict in appearance, but fails to protect doctors because it features neither in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) nor in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of the criminal justice system. Hence, it makes it difficult for victim doctors to seek help and protection from the police and file complaints. As there is a no provision in the IPC, filing a case can sometimes mean taking a copy of the Act to the police because he/she may not even know about it. There must be an effective law in place.
Dr Charudutt Hase
Bengal issue has been politicised
The Bengal doctor attack issue has been politicised by parties who want to score big by defeating the established government and undermine Mamata Banerjee’s government. Relatives must not attack doctors as they are doing their duty as a responsible citizen. The corruption in the police department also hampers investigation process. Sometimes, it is seen that police take free medical treatment from leading hospitals and go slow on the victims of doctor’s negligence. Instead, victim patients are criminalised in this police-hospital nexus which is hidden from the eyes of the common man. So, there is a need to educate people about the nexus which causes problems for doctors as well as patients. A professional watchdog is the need of the hour to curb the rising of attack on doctors.
Dr Snehil Banerjee
Need strict punishment for attackers
Attack on doctors is a dangerous situation in which angry mobs and individuals attack individual doctors and cause damage to hospitals and clinics with the intention of destroying the infrastructure and injuring doctors, including other medical personnel deployed at the establishment. Both the government-run and privately managed hospitals are vulnerable to these mob attacks which occur at the slightest pretext. In most of these instances, we found that the close relatives, neighbours and friends, of a patient storm into a hospital shouting serious negligence on the part of doctor and carry out attacks with sticks and rods. This situation is getting threatening and with mob lynching remaining uncontrolled, the mobs attacking doctors are getting inspired from the inaction and taking law into hands. There are cases where doctors have been killed by a mob. So, we request the police department to take strong action against all kinds of physical violence, failing which, the mobs will take to the streets and murder doctors if they are unsatisfied with the service. The fear of the law should be there always.
Dr Kumar Gosavi
Privatisation of health sector responsible for attacks
Doctor mafia is responsible for the increasing number of attacks on innocent doctors. The reason is very simple, the privatisation of the health sector without any control by the state has led to creation of medical mafia, which has no human value left and only wants to loot patients. Corporate loot by top hospitals is clearly before the eyes of people and they know that the doctors are working as criminals and not humans. There is no clarity on the billing and the entire patient admission process is mired in a jargon which appears to be simple, but very complicated to understand. The growing corporatisation of medical sector is ruining havoc with the Indian society and doctors are playing a leading role in running the business as a syndicate.