It was sickening to see the video footage of a young doctor being brutally assaulted in a Maharashtra hospital a few days ago by relatives of a patient who died of terminal illness. Tamil Nadu is no stranger to such incidents. On Tuesday an irate mob attacked a female urban health nurse at Beema Nagar in Trichy after a child developed fever following MR vaccination. Recently, around 1,000 doctors staged a protest against the assault on a duty doctor by a patient’s relative at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai.
Across India, overworked resident doctors routinely face verbal and physical assaults by those upset with the treatment of their loved ones. Doctors become the punching bag for things beyond their control, be it the paucity of staff, lack of critical equipment, or even when it is humanly impossible to save a patient.
Many doctors have suffered grievous injuries during such incidents.The aftermath is predictable — doctors strike work in a show of solidarity, health services get disrupted and thousands of patients suffer hardships. But everything returns to normal till another doctor gets beaten up. Authorities pledge to protect doctors, but nothing changes on the This phenomenon of patient rage is rarely witnessed in other countries, so why is India an exception? The reasons are tied to the country’s overburdened and inadequate public healthcare system. With only nine hospital beds for every 10,000 persons, demand outstrips supply by a huge margin. Faced with a flood of patients, resident doctors — the first point of contact for hospital visitors — work hours at a stretch in mind-numbing conditions, till exhaustion sets in.
The pressure sometimes leads to a lack of sensitivity in doctors and a communication breakdown with attendants of patients. Lack of communication is perceived as lack of care on the part of the doctor. It is therefore important for healthcare professionals to not only treat patients in the best manner possible, but also ensure that their relatives understand that the best treatment was given.
Public hospitals in India do not have enough infrastructure, doctors or equipment. But, the people need to question political leaders about the state of hospitals, not the hapless doctors practicing there.
Legislation to protect doctors from patient rage exists in many states but suffers from poor implementation. While most hospitals have inadequate security, there is no check on the number of relatives accompanying a patient. These issues need to be addressed first to ensure the safety of doctors in their workplace.
Courtesy: Times of India