Reeling under attacks, 4,000 Mumbai doctors hire security cover



MUMBAI: The spate of attacks on doctors by patients and their relatives seem to have spurred them to reach for private security cover. From August 1, 4,000 members of the Association of Medical Consultants (AMC) can dial a special number to mobilize security men to reach a trouble spot within nine minutes.

AMC president Dr Sudhir Naik said the tie-up with a private security provider will act as a deterrent against violence. “On dialing the special number, the firm will send its security men to doctors’ clinics or nursing homes with the aim to protect the doctors from mob violence,” he said, adding that the men wouldn’t use force.
“This development shows how serious the lack of trust between doctors and patients has become. We have an explosive situation,” said Dr Abhay Shukla from the Network of Doctors for Ethical, Rational and De-Commercialised Healthcare.

Violence against doctors has become a recurrent theme in Mumbai, with resident doctors in public hospitals or nursing homes targeted by mobs or patients’ relatives. Experts say this is an indicator of the pathetic state of doctor-patient relationship: patients believe doctors charge exorbitantly and order unnecessary tests and procedures, and doctors feel they are overworked and misunderstood. Last week, a mob marched up to a Malwani nursing home after a two-year-old girl died while being shifted to another hospital. A few months ago, doctors in Sion Hospital were roughed up by a patient’s relatives.

The security service is available to 4,000 AMC members. The remaining 4,000 who haven’t registered can avail of it for a nominal sum, said AMC president Naik.

Dr Lalit Kapoor, one of the senior-most members of AMC, said the tie-up shouldn’t be viewed as a security issue alone. “The service is meant for individual doctors and not only for security, but safety as well. The doctors can dial the service for help in case he or she meets with an accident or there is a fire at their house,” he said.

Security is also an aspect of the service. “One doesn’t hear of big corporate hospitals with elaborate security arrangements facing mob attacks. It’s perhaps the lack of security at nursing homes that emboldens mobs,” said Kapoor’.

Public health experts feel such tie-ups won’t mend the doctor-patient ties. The real need of the time is to ensure continuous dialogue between doctors and patients. “Violence against doctors is not acceptable, but getting security is no solution. We should address the underlying issues such as the lack of standardization of hospitalization rates, the absence of any attempt to address patient’s rights, etc,” said Dr Shukla from the Network of Doctors for Ethical, Rational and De-Commercialised Healthcare.

Patients are often in the dark about rates or are not counselled adequately about their patient’s health. “Problems seem to arise when patients are suddenly handed a huge bill that they hadn’t expected or there is a sudden dip in their patient’s health that they hadn’t known about,” said Shukla, adding that continuous dialogue can help.

Courtesy – Times of India

Malathy Iyer | Aug 13, 2015, 03.45 AM IST

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