The Lancet Publishes Article On Violence Against Doctors in India


The issue of escalating violence towards doctors in India has cropped up again. Renowned physician and researcher. This month renowned physician and researcher Dr HS Bawaskar has written a piece in The Lancet  on the topic of attacks on doctors.

In his article, Dr Bawaskar puts forward his belief that the doctor-patient relationship in India is fast deteriorating, even more than in China, which is infamous for assaults on medical professionals. He rues the absence of ethics and compassion in a system that depends on entrance tests rather than the student’s ‘vocation, aptitude, or attitude’ to select the future doctors. He writes about the different problems doctors face under various circumstances, whether it is trying to maintain a good lifestyle with unethical money in cities or coping with stressful and often politicised work conditions in civic hospitals.

About violent attacks on doctors by relatives of patients, Dr Bawaskar puts forth the main reasons as delayed treatment, unwarranted inquiries, insistence on advanced payments and refusal to hand over a deceased unless the final hospital costs are paid. With dissatisfaction on the part of doctors, patients and relatives alike, Dr Bawaskar says that doctors in India now even dissuade their children from joining the same profession.

He also blames pharmaceutical companies who often shower lavish ‘gifts’ and favours to the doctors who bring profits to their business. Such perks to doctors also include huge discounts in expensive drugs whereas no such subsidies are given to the patients. He writes, ‘Patients are used for research, but benefits are given to doctors.’

With the article, Dr Bawaskar clearly shows a pattern in which many doctors choose questionable ways to get back all the money they spent in years of medical studies and training. Their frustration and unfair ways provoke the already grieving and upset patients and families who then vent their anger by assaulting the doctors and medical staff.

One of the latest incidences took place in Meerut where a man shot a lady doctor with a pistol. He alleged it was the doctor’s negligence that led to his wife’s death during childbirth. According to media sources, there are over a dozen such assault cases in just Mumbai city alone in the past 6months but very few of the cases get officially reported. The actual numbers in India are likely to surpass that of China. Despite the presence of the Doctors’ Protection Law, medics are still not safe as often the law enforcers are ignorant of the Law or they sympathize with the patients’ side.



Medicos India Team on Sep – 26 – 2014