India: a Leading Country in Terms of Violence Against Doctors?


The ever-increasing cases of violence against doctors by relatives or attendants of patients has finally prompted the government to mull over drafting a central law which will ensure the protection of the caregivers.

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.

More than 75% of doctors in India are reported to have faced violence in one form or the other as per as estimate by the Indian Medical Association. In fact, back in 2015 the government had instituted an inter-ministerial committee following complaints from the medical fraternity. The committee was set up to look into such issues and evaluate ways by which the safety of the caregivers’ lives can be ensured.

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.
Earlier, CM of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis announced in the House that Maharashtra would increase the three-year imprisonment under the present law to seven years. It is certain that the poor budgetary allocation for health is the root cause for the violence. An inadequate budget means inadequate infrastructure, fewer doctors and an overstrained system and more security wouldn’t alleviate the situation. “It isn’t more security guards, but more doctors who are needed.”

Taking cognisance of increasing cases of violence against doctors by kin or attendants of patients, the government is mulling drafting a central law to ensure protection of the caregivers. Following complaints from the medical fraternity, the government had set up an inter-ministerial committee in 2015 to examine such issues and evaluate ways to ensure safety of those who save lives.

In its recommendations, the panel has suggested the health ministry initiate the process to bring a central act on the issue. The proposed law may have stringent provisions like making any act of violence against a doctor, medical professional or hospital authority a non-bailable offence.

Around 18 states across the country already have such laws in place. However, in the absence of efficient implementation doctors are often left to face the wrath of unhappy kin of a patient. The committee has asked the health ministry to frame the central act in line with existing laws in different states.

The proposed law may also see the hospital authorities bearing more responsibilities to ensure the safety and security of doctors as well as the paramedical staff.

  • Courtesy: Lawz Magazine


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