Two of three doctors feel unsafe: survey


Violence against doctors by patients, their relatives fast turning into the number one problem faced by physicians

Doctors posted at Ambedkar Hospital in Rohini weren’t prepared for the violence that was played out in hospital’s casualty on Friday night.

On-duty doctors were verbally abused and threatened with physical violence, and hospital property damaged by a group of attendants accompanying a patient brought in with extensive liver disease.

“The doctor who attended the patient told his attendants that a particular injection needed for treatment was unavailable at this government hospital and should be immediately bought from outside. This triggered a volley of verbal abuse and then this small group of men turned violent, breaking hospital doors and windowpanes,” said Pankaj Solanki, the president of the federation of resident doctors association of Delhi (FORDA).

According to FORDA, violence against doctors is fast turning into the number one problem faced by physicians in the Capital.

“Despite going on strike demanding a safe workplace, the Delhi Government hasn’t been able to ensure that doctors and other medical staff are safe in hospitals. The condition is pitiable,” noted Dr. Solanki.

What Delhi doctors having been saying all along has now been established in an all-India survey, which has noted that two of three doctors do not feel safe in hospitals and that incidents of them being manhandled by patients and their relatives are on the rise.

The survey covered 2,000 doctors across several States and was routed through the Curofy app, which has become a platform for exchange of cases and discussions among medical practitioners.

According to the survey, 42 per cent of doctors said they had themselves been a victim of violence by a patient’s attendants. Contrary to popular notion, monetary issues and medical negligence are among the least likely reasons for such violent outbursts.

At 66 per cent, emotional outbursts after negative patient outcome rank among the highest reasons for such violence. Violent and drunk attendants also formed a sizable chunk — one-fourth — in one of the reasons behind such incidents.

The survey also tried to find possible ways to stop violence against doctors and asked them which one intervention would make them feel safe in the hospital.

“Around 49 per cent doctors surveyed favoured having presence of either rapid action units or police booths within hospital premises, while around 25 per cent said having armed security guards at hospitals should be made mandatory.

“About 22 per cent suggested installation of CCTV cameras at key points and a few doctors even suggested that they must have access to pepper sprays in case need arises,” said Curofy co-founder Nipun Goyal.

It is interesting to note that this survey comes at a time when national data of similar sort has shown that nearly 75 per cent doctors in India have faced some form of violence at work in the past five years.

“The results highlight a very sad state of Indian medical system. They certainly reflect the need for doctors to feel secure at work under any circumstances,” said Mr. Goyal.

Doctors have suggested strict crowd management at hospitals, more security personnel and one-patient, one-attendant formula to curb violence at medical centres.