While 40,000 doctors across private and public hospitals in Mumbai “bunked” work last week to protest manhandling by patients’ relatives, there is now recognition that most doctors and nurses the world over experience intimidation – either physical or verbal -from patients and relatives.

The World Health Organisation states, “Between 8% and 38% of health workers suffer physical violence at some point in their careers. Many more are threatened or exposed to verbal aggression. Most violence is perpetrated by patients and visitors.” Kicks, scratches, bites and spitting are the most common form of attacks.

The American Bureau of Labour Statistics shows 70% of all non-fatal workplace assaults in the US occur in healthcare settings. A simple online search shows medical papers on assaults on medical staff in many countries, ranging from Pakistan to China to the US.The Lancet last year reported a survey of 316 hospitals by Chinese Hospital Association that showed violence increased from 20·6 assaults per hospital in 2008 to 27·3 in 2012.

Meanwhile, as the city’s doctors stayed away from patients last week, a popular forward among them was a Face book poster put up by the Queensland state government that said, “If you think it’s okay to assault a nurse, doctor or ambulance officer, we’ll give you up to 14 years to think again.” CM Devendra Fadnavis announced in the House on Friday that Maharashtra would increase the three-year imprisonment under the present law to seven years. But the fact is that the 2014 Australian legislation seems to have done little to deter assaults; the Queensland Ambulance Service recorded 170 attacks in 2015 as against 142 before the legislation in 2012.

A paper about Greece’s hospitals post the economic meltdown of 2007-08 showed while violation of visiting hours and long waiting periods were among the most common triggers of violence, economic hardships were the root cause for such reactions.

Public health specialist Dr Abhay Shukla is certain the poor budgetary allocation for health is the root cause for the violence. He said an inadequate budget meant inadequate infrastructure, fewer doctors and an overstrained system. But experts said more security wouldn’t alleviate the situation.”It isn’t more security guards, but more doctors who are needed,” said Dr Sandip Rane.

Courtesy : The Times of India


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