Doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff are coming under attack from relatives of patients for what they see as “medical negligence”.
Medical practitioners see a “lack of will” by the government in enforcing the Karnataka Prohibition of Violence Against Medicare Service Personnel and Damage to Property in Medicare Service Institutions Act, 2009.
Even the police seem to be unaware of the provisions of the Act, they say. Recently, relatives of a deceased patient assaulted postgraduate medical students and doctors at the MVJ Medical College and Research Hospital and ransacked the hospital, alleging medical negligence. But there has been no action against them.
A similar incident took place in March last year at the Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital where doctors were beaten up. Till date, no arrests have been made. “I was also among those attacked, but there have been no arrests. We staged a protest after that. What else can doctors do? The police themselves seem to be unaware of the law,” said Dr M D Marker, medical director of the hospital.
Dr Sudhindra P K, president of Karnataka Resident Doctors’ Association, said that repeated requests and representations to the government to tighten security in hospitals served no purpose. “We wrote to the minister and the then police commissioner. Nothing has happened. We wanted more CCTV cameras in hospitals. The director promised to restrict the number of visitors but this has not yet happened,” he said.
What the Act says
Any person who commits any act of violence against medicare personnel shall be punished with imprisonment for three years with fine which may extend to Rs 50,000.
Any violence against medicare service personnel or damage to property in a medicare service institution shall be a cognisable and non-bailable offence.
The offender shall also be liable to pay a penalty of twice the amount of purchase price of medical equipment damaged and loss caused to the property as determined by the court trying the offender.